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Scottish Labour in turmoil but Keir Starmer and defiant Richard Leonard continue to look to future

Labour leader Keir Starmer.
Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Labour leader Keir Starmer continues to have a “very good working relationship” with Scottish party boss Richard Leonard, who is facing resignations and calls for him to quit.

James Kelly quit as the party’s justice spokesman at Holyrood, his resignation letter claiming it is in Labour’s “best interests” for Mr Leonard to stand down.

The Glasgow MSP said he is now saying publicly what he had already told the leader privately – that if Labour is to reverse its fortunes in Scotland “Richard must stand down”.

Jenny Marra MSP.

Meanwhile, North East Scotland MSP Jenny Marra told The Times newspaper that if the party does “not change course now, we risk catastrophe”.

Their calls were backed by fellow MSP Daniel Johnson, who said: “It is not easy speaking out but my colleagues Jenny Marra and James Kelly have done the right thing.

“It is time to recognise the situation we are in and for Richard to step down.”

Richard Leonard.

Sir Keir’s spokesman offered supportive comments for the embattled Scots leader this afternoon, however.

He said: “This is a matter for Scot Lab, but Keir and Richard have a very good working relationship and they’re both focusing on next year’s elections, where we are determined to take on the SNP.”

He added: “They both spoke last week about the shared ambition to rebuild trust in Scotland and take on the SNP on their domestic record.”

If any party representative thinks an internal faction fight is more important than this agenda, they will have to answer to the party members and the voters whom we serve.”

Richard Leonard

Mr Leonard has made clear that he is not quitting, stating: “I am leading Scottish Labour into the 2021 elections on a platform of building a National Care Service, establishing a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme and reviving Scotland’s economy with a Green New Deal.

“If any party representative thinks an internal faction fight is more important than this agenda, they will have to answer to the party members and the voters whom we serve.”

Labour is currently third in the opinion polls in Scotland, behind both the SNP and the Tories.

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