RICHARD Leonard has insisted he will not stand down as leader of Scottish Labour, despite taking the party to fifth place in the European elections.

His refusal to quit came as the party imploded yesterday with two frontbench resignations and calls for him to consider his position.

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Neil Findlay, a Leonard loyalist and Eurosceptic, was the first to go, and he also announced plans to stand down as an MSP in 2021.

In his resignation letter, the veteran left-winger, who was the brains behind the disastrous push for votes in the Euros, said he had been thinking about quitting for the past six months.

He also called for an end to the party’s “eternal, internal fighting” and “the toxic culture of leaks and briefings that come from some within the Scottish and UK parliamentary groups”.

Findlay, who was Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign manager in Scotland, said the “self-inflicted harm” caused by infighting had to stop.

“Our party members and our leadership teams deserve so much better,” he added.

“Scottish Labour will win again when the focus is on the public, not the internal politics of the parliamentary group.”


The National: Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

Findlay went on to say that the party needed a “clear and easily understood position on the constitution” and that the social and economic policies being pursued by Leonard and Corbyn are “100% correct”.

On his Twitter feed, he explained to his followers that he was going because “there is a big world outside the Holyrood bubble, life is too short to be involved in endless internal battles with people who are supposed to be on the same side”.

Hours later, Daniel Johnson, the party’s justice spokesman, resigned for very different reasons.

He said his Edinburgh Southern constituency voted 80% Remain and were clear “not only that we must have another referendum, but that we must make every effort to ensure the UK remains a member of the EU. That is a view I share.”

He added: “Quite simply, I do not feel I can represent my constituents effectively unless I can articulate and represent this view.

“I do not believe that I can do this from the frontbench under the current direction and leadership of this party.”

His resignation came despite comments from Leonard on Monday night when he said he was “humbled by the scale of the defeat”, and gave his backing to holding another referendum on Brexit.

Labour took less than 10% of the vote in Scotland at the European elections, losing both their MEPs. It was the party’s worst result since 1910.

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Earlier, in an interview with BBC Radio Scotland, Scottish Labour’s longest-serving MP, Ian Murray, was asked if Leonard or Findlay should consider their positions.

Murray said: “It’s up to them to consider their own positions. They’ll decide whether or not they’re in the best position to take forward the Scottish Labour party.

“I know many of the members who have spoken to me since the results yesterday have been decidedly angry, and decided that they perhaps voted for Richard in the leadership election and maybe they’ve changed their mind now.

“It’s about time that they showed some leadership and brought that forward.”

In his reply to Findlay’s resignation letter, Leonard said: “Tony Benn famously left the House of Commons to spend more time on politics, and I am sure that this approach will be a very good precedent for the next phase of your contribution.”

SNP Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf paid tribute to Johnson, describing him as “formidable”.

He tweeted: “They are abandoning a sinking ship. Truly does feel like an existential moment for Scottish Labour.”