KEZIA Dugdale is to leave the Scottish Parliament over the summer.

The former Scottish Labour leader is to start a new job at the University of Glasgow’s John Smith Centre for Public Service in July.

Dugdale, who has been an MSP since, 2011, said: “I have devoted my working life to public service, and this is an incredibly exciting new opportunity for me to lead the work of the John Smith Centre.

“Throughout my career I have taken on tough and challenging tasks, and my next task is to rebuild faith in our politics.

“Disruptive events and the rise of populism has led to increasingly polarised and emotional politics where rational, evidence-based thinking has lost its standing.

“Faith in public service, politics and the political process has to be restored and that progress must be sustainable.

“John Smith said ‘the opportunity to serve our country - that is all we ask’. It will be an honour to build on his legacy and inspire his values of public service in a new generation.”

When Dugdale quits the Parliament her seat will be offered to the next available person on the Lothian list for Labour, which is currently former ex-MSP Sarah Boyack.

Dugdale has often found herself at odds with both her successor Richard Leonard, and with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

It all came to a head during her recent defamation battle with Wings Over Scotland’s Stuart Campbell, when the party abruptly and unexpectedly ended financial support for her legal fees.

Labour’s previous general secretary Iain McNicol had made a commitment to support Dugdale, but his replacement, Jennie Formby, cut off costs when they reached £90k.

Dugdale said the decision had left at her lowest point, and fearing bankruptcy.

On Saturday, in a Twitter poll run by the Strathclyde University Labour Club, she was chosen as the winner of the Scottish Labour Party World Cup. Leonard was knocked out in the front round.

On Monday, he paid tribute to his predecessor: “Kezia will be a loss to the Scottish Labour Party but I am sure she will still play a valuable role in public life going forward.

“Kezia stepped forward at a difficult time for the Scottish Labour Party and on many issues – from arguing to use the tax and social security powers of Holyrood to making the case for federalism, she helped the party rebuild after the devastating losses of the 2015 General Election.

“On behalf of the Scottish Labour party I thank Kezia for her service and wish her well in the next exciting chapter of her life.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to her former opposite number: "I wish @kezdugdale the very best for the future. As political opponents, she and I have had our fair share of clashes over the years, but I think she is a big loss to @scottishlabour and to @ScotParl. I hope she enjoys her new challenge."