THE Scottish MP who helped bring down Boris Johnson is open to pursuing a future career in Holyrood.

Wendy Chamberlain, the LibDem MP for North East Fife, is regarded as one of the star parliamentarians from the intake of new MPs elected in December 2019.

As a relative novice in Westminster, she secured an emergency debate which piled pressure on Mr Johnson who had been forced to U-turn on plans to rip up Westminster’s standards system in a bid to allow his ally Owen Paterson to escape punishment for breaches of lobbying rules.

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A year-and-a-half later, with the PM weakened by the partygate scandal, Ms Chamberlain went on the offensive again against Mr Johnson over the Chris Pincher scandal, a matter which ultimately led to Mr Johnson’s resignation.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, Ms Chamberlain, the LibDem chief whip, referred to the former SNP MP Neil Gray, who is now an MSP and minister in the Scottish Government, as an example of a politician from another party who had made the switch from Westminster to Holyrood.

Formerly a LibDem stronghold, the seat was taken by the SNP’s Stephen Gethins in the 2015 General Election. He held onto it in 2017 by just two votes but boundary changes mean the seat will take in areas that tend to be SNP-supporting when voters are expected to return the polls again next year.

“I wouldn’t want to make assumptions about being returned by the people of North East Fife so I suppose I understand some of the day-to-day issues which impact on people daily,” she said.

“A lot of it is managed by Holyrood so sometimes I have a desire to be more directly involved in that. But I haven’t really given it much thought beyond that.”


Ms Chamberlain is married to an SNP activist and a fellow former police officer who joined the party when he retired in 2011.

A long time Lib Dem supporter, she didn't get involved in politics until after the 2015 general election and described herself as a "quiet no voter" in the independence referendum the year before while her husband was actively campaigning for a Yes vote.

"My husband's car stickers were an item of debate," she said.

"But it certainly gets me out of my echo chamber. If Scotland is split down the middle, which it seems to be according to the polls, we as a couple are pretty representative of Scotland."

She said her husband is "totally supportive" of her career though he likes to use the nationalist jibe of "Wastemonster" to mock her place of work.

Not surprisingly, he doesn't help out with her campaigns and indeed helped get education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville re-elected to her Fife seat.

She said it was too early to say whether her husband’s party will see support fall for it at the next election following the internal rifts and turmoil of the current leadership election.

“Despite seeing their vote fall back slightly amid the contest, they are still the dominant force in Scottish politics. Whatever your views on the politics of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, you can admire them as political operators,” she said.

“And what the SNP will have to grapple with is potentially not having that skill set in their new leader and First Minister. Does it mean that a government which has been in power for 16 years and has its challenges begins to struggle to make its case to the public?

“On the independence front it seems to me the independence question has gone away for now. But for me and other pro-UK MPs and MSPs, this is a reprieve and we do need to reshape the UK and what Scotland’s place in it looks like.”

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She added the changes taking place could provide new opportunities for cross-party collaboration.

“I’m hoping it will change some of the very attritional and divisive politics that we have seen and people look to the brand of local politics which the LibDems are well known for,” she said.

“I think any politician worth their salt welcomes a more collegiate style of politics as I believe the vast number of people who get into politics do so to make a difference to their local communities as opposed to grandstanding and trading insults.”

Ms Chamberlain looked back at the Paterson saga and regarded it was a moment when the former Tory PM’s fortunes began to change.

“Yes, it certainly went up a division,” she said, asked if the Paterson episode marked the beginning of the end for Mr Johnson. “I remember sitting, waiting for [the debate] to start and there was [Labour leader] Keir Starmer and I was thinking ‘he’s got to wait until I finish as it’s my debate’. So I led it off.”


Ms Chamberlain has since continued to work to reform parliamentary standards and succeeded in bringing in a new rule which stops an MP who has broken a rule from voting on what action should be taken against him or her.

The former police officer worked both in frontline policing and in other roles including for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) before pursuing careers outside the police and then embarking on her involvement in politics.

At Westminster, Ms Chamberlain has a Private Member’s Bill which proposes a new flexible entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who are providing or arranging care for a dependant with a long-term care need. The bill has been passed in the Commons and is due to be debated in the Lords. She hopes her bill will complete its successful journey through Parliament this spring.

In addition to her work in the House of Commons, the MP has been tasked with heading up a LibDem commission on violence against women and girls.

Work is at an early stage with Ms Chamberlain hoping to submit her report to the party before its conference in spring next year.


Boris Johnson, pictured above, resigned as Prime Minister in July 2022 after a series of scandals and was replaced first by Liz Truss and then Rishi Sunak, pictured with Mr Johnson in the House of Commons. Photo PA.

During her police career she gained first-hand experience in dealing with both women and child victims of sexual assault.

With criminal justice devolved, her policy paper is expected to make recommendations for both the UK and Scottish governments.

She also suggested it may consider how to improve the system of investigating complaints of misconduct in Westminster and Holyrood, and also in the police service.

In terms of the former institution, she said: “My own views is that the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) is a huge improvement on were things where.

“I don’t know what it was like before because I wasn’t there when it came in. But I still think there are plenty of things that could be done to improve it.

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“As a whip it is quite difficult. If somebody comes to speak to you about an MP colleague and then we don’t want you to do anything about it, what do you do with that information? You are not that MP’s line manager, in fact your leader isn’t that MP’s line manager, so how do you address and approach that?

“Or do you direct someone and say ‘what you are telling me falls within the scope of the ICGS scheme?’. But the ICG scheme doesn’t take third-party referrals. As the whip, my job is supposed to be pastoral support but also the disciplinary aspect as well. So how do you balance those aspects?

“There are myriad issues there. If we want more women and more diversity generally in politics, we need to do more to convince people that Westminster and Holyrood are good places for people to work.”

The LibDems’ commission on violence against women and girls was set up in the aftermath of the murder of Sarah Everard by the serving police officer Wayne Couzens.

And the conviction last month of David Carrick for a series of rapes carried out when he was a serving constable put a renewed spotlight on the scandal.

Both Couzens and Carrick were serving in the Metropolitan Police when their crimes were carried out.

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A review of the force set up after Ms Everard’s murder in 2021 is being conducted by Baroness Louise Casey and is due to be published this week. Reports suggest it is expected to say the force is ridden with sexism, racism and homophobia.

Ms Chamberlain pointed to the fact that both men had nicknames, suggesting colleagues were aware that they both conducted themselves inappropriately towards women but that their conduct was tolerated.

“The telling thing for me around David Carrick and Wayne Couzens is that they both had their nicknames in their work circles. I’m not suggesting the [conduct they were known for was on the] same level of severity of what they were convicted, but they were inappropriate in their conduct. So there was clearly an issue of tolerance of behaviours.”

Ms Chamberlain did not want to go into detail but at one point during the interview she alluded to first-hand experience of being on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour when she was a serving officer.

“I am a 46-year-old woman. I’m not going to pretend I haven’t experienced that darker side myself. I have my own stories to tell,” she said, referring to her time in Lothian and Borders Police.

She said Police Scotland “shouldn’t think of themselves as immune” but also praised the force on its “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign which focused efforts on persuading men to change their behaviour around women.

One issue she is concerned about is the current practice in Police Scotland of ending a misconduct investigation if an officer resigns.

The situation contrasts with that south of the Border where investigations continue even if an officer leaves.

Last month it was revealed that 47 officers in Scotland have resigned or retired during misconduct proceedings against them since 2019.

“I had a lot of dealings with the Police Federation when I was at Acpos,” she said. “Their raison d’etre is openness and effectiveness, so they should be open to change.”