The National:

RICHARD Leonard has finally resigned after increasing pressure to step down after he presided over a series of disappointing election results as party leader.

On his watch, Scottish Labour came fifth in the European election and lost six of their seven MSPs at the last General Election.

Four of Leonard's MSPs – James Kelly, Jenny Marra, Daniel Johnson and Mark Griffin – have openly called for his departure.

A group of Labour peers and grandees – including Helen Liddell, Meta Ramsay, George Robertson and George Foulkes – also issued a statement last year urging him to “do what is best for the country and for the party”.

READ MORE: Richard Leonard quits as Scottish Labour leader after three years in role

It was hard to choose just five but we've listed below details of Leonard's worst gaffes.

Incompetence over Brexit trade deal

Richard Leonard seemingly sent out a press release setting out Scottish Labour's position on the Brexit deal without having first read it.

In a statement sent out in Leonard’s name, Labour said their MSPs would be voting “to deny legislative consent to Boris Johnson's Brexit deal”. 

But the next day, in a further release, sent out under Anas Sarwar’s name, that had changed.

READ MORE: 'A new level of incompetence': Scottish Labour meltdown over Brexit trade deal

Leonard’s frontbenchers were reportedly furious that the release had not set out his support for Keir Starmer’s decision to back the deal. 

"This takes us to a new level of incompetence," one Labour source told The Times. 

Prohibition attack

In December last year Leonard likened the closure of pubs in Scotland to US prohibition in the 1920s.

Writing in a Scotsman column the Scottish Labour leader said the ban on alcohol sales has “an air of puritanism” and “smacks of an authoritarian streak at the heart of the SNP’s nationalism”.

READ MORE: Richard Leonard under fire for 'totally unfounded' claims about Covid pub closures

The Scottish Government described the claims in the article as “totally unfounded”.

In the column, he wrote: "People could be forgiven for beginning to think Nicola Sturgeon had effectively imposed a version of 1920s US prohibition on their communities.

“An insistence that licensed venues, allowed to open under hyper-strict and extremely time-limited conditions, do not serve alcohol, has at best an air of puritanism about it, at worst it smacks of an authoritarian streak at the heart of the SNP’s nationalism.”

Covid variant demands

Nicola Sturgeon said “words almost failed” her as she tried to respond to a question from Richard Leonard at Holyrood last month.

Leonard said: “If the new strain of the virus is 70% more transmissible than the original virus, will the government urgently increase the number of daily tests carried out in Scotland by 70%? Improve the capacity, utilisation and performance of Test and Protect by 70%, and will the First Minister commit today, as soon as it is practically possible, to a 70% acceleration in the rollout of the vaccination programme?”

READ MORE: 'Words fail me': Nicola Sturgeon slams Richard Leonard for Covid variant demands

As he finished his question, MSPs groaned. In response, the First Minister said she hopes “people will forgive me but I’m, like many people over the country, probably feeling a bit overtired at the moment, but words almost fail me in response to that, I have to be perfectly honest”.

A small round of applause began in the chamber as Sturgeon finished speaking.

Forced to apologise over soup kitchen tweet

In November last year Leonard was criticised by a homeless charity for using a picture of their soup kitchen for “political gain”.

The former Labour leader, who had initially refused to comment on the criticism, tweeted a photo of a queue at the Homeless Project Scotland’s centre in Glasgow.

READ MORE: Richard Leonard forced into grovelling apology over soup kitchen tweet

His post read: “While the SNP rattle their sabres over independence, this is the scene outside a soup kitchen in Glasgow.

“The SNP has failed the people of Scotland and have no desire to take the radical action that we need to eradicate poverty and inequality in Scotland.”

It later emerged that the picture, which was originally posted on Instagram by Missing Records Glasgow, had been shared by various Scottish Labour politicians – including party chair Cara Hilton and MSP Neil Findlay – in posts attacking the SNP.

Making a fool of himself at FMQs

Leonard was lambasted by a member of his own party after a humiliating turn at First Minister’s Question’s in August last year.

Nicola Sturgeon branded him “chief cheerleader” for Boris Johnson’s Tory Government during a debate on the latest GERS figures.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour insider blasts 'inept' Richard Leonard after FMQs disaster

Leonard urged the First Minister to commit to a “quality jobs guarantee scheme” and demanded that she press Westminster to extend the furlough scheme – both of which the Scottish Government has already done.

The embarrassing episode angered Scottish Labour onlookers. A party source told the Herald: “Richard not only missed an open goal, he wasn’t even on the pitch.

“It’s bad enough that he’s dragging the party down with him, but he’s also putting the Union at risk with his ineptitude.”