RICHARD Leonard quit as Scottish Labour leader after Keir Starmer told party colleagues - including Leonard's deputy Jackie Baillie - he had no confidence in his leadership, it is being reported.

His resignation yesterday afternoon followed a meeting this week at which Sir Keir made clear his views, according to a report in The Times today.

The Zoom conference call on Wednesday night involved senior party figures as well as potential donors, who are understood to have said that they would not back Labour while Leonard stayed in post, The Times reported.

Relations had dipped to a new low when Leonard, 58, issued a statement that appeared to undermine Starmer's decision to vote for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal earlier this month.

It has emerged that trade unions including the GMB helped broker the talks and acted as guarantors for Leonard, a former GMB organiser.

The GMB is a major Labour donor that represents workers in the manufacturing industry and public services.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour in crisis as Richard Leonard quits before key Holyrood poll

According to the Times' report deputy Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie, Ian Murray MP, the shadow Scottish secretary, David Evans, the UK general secretary, Angela Rayner, the UK deputy leader, William Haughey, the businessman, and Robert Latham, the human rights lawyer, were on the Zoom call but Leonard was not.

The National:

Meanwhile, one senior Labour figure said Leonard had been pushed by his “union friends” to quit because of the party’s poor showing and his bad personal ratings.

“His friends in the unions spoke to him,” the Labour figure told the Financial Times.

“He was offered either the guillotine or the door, it was a deliberate decapitation strategy.”

According to the FT senior figures from the GMB are understood to have acted as the “honest brokers” who persuaded Leonard of the need for a “peaceful transfer of power”.

READ MORE: Holyrood election: Flood of Labour and Tory voters considering SNP switch

In a statement yesterday, Leonard said he “thought long and hard over the Christmas period” and speculation about his leadership had “become a distraction”.

Starmer is said to have grown frustrated with Labour’s failure to gain ground in Scotland and had lost confidence in Leonard amid plunging poll ratings.

In 2019, Scottish Labour lost both of its MEPs in European elections and six of its seven MPs in the general election.

READ MORE: Ian Murray has landed Scottish Labour in even more trouble, pollster warns

In a statement, Starmer said: “Richard has led Scottish Labour through one of the most challenging and difficult periods in our country’s history, including a general election and the pandemic. Even from opposition he has achieved a considerable amount.”

Leonard’s successor will have to fight the Holyrood elections in May. According to a new poll, the SNP is on course for a majority as Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus response attracts both former Tory and Labour supporters.

The First Minister has impressed “significant chunks” of voters, according to the Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman.

The survey of 1016 people aged over 16 between January 8 and 13 found 37% of Labour’s 2019 voters, and 13% of Scottish Tory voters, were more likely to back the SNP at the next election than they had been before the pandemic.

However, of the SNP voters who backed the party in the 2019 election, 14% now say they are more likely to vote for Labour in May, and 8% think they may vote for the Conservatives.

Overall, 59% Scots have a more positive view of Sturgeon than before the pandemic, including 46% of Scottish Labour voters and 36% of Scottish Tory supporters.