Anas Sarwar unveils frontbench team - but no job for former leader Richard Leonard

Anas Sarwar has appointed all but two MSPs from his group of 22 to shadow Cabinet or junior ministerial positions – excluding former leader Richard Leonard and former deputy leader Alex Rowley.

The Scottish Labour leader, who saw his party lose two MSPs at the recent election, unveiled his new look parliamentary frontbench, which he said would have a “focus on the national recovery”.

He brings back Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray MP into the Holyrood team.

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However, there is no portfolio role for either Richard Leonard – who he replaced in this year’s leadership contest – or Fife MSP Alex Rowley Instead both are slated to be nominated as parliamentary committee chairs.

Anas Sarwar has unveiled his new frontbench team which sees Jackie Baillie retain the health brief.

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Mr Sarwar’s deputy Jackie Baillie remains as shadow for health and social care, but she will also take on the role of shadow Covid recovery secretary – a position in government held by John Swinney.

Supporting her will be new MSPs Carol Mochan on mental wellbeing, women’s health and sport, and Paul O’Kane on public health and social care.

One of the most important roles as Labour aims to be clear on its constitutional stance will be Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack, one of the few in the group who has previous government experience. She will shadow the SNP’s Angus Robertson, who holds the Edinburgh Central seat, which Ms Boyack used to hold, as constitution secretary.

Mr Sarwar said his team “brings together the best of the Labour movement with a focus on delivering a national recovery for the people of Scotland”.

He said: “I’m particularly delighted to welcome the new talents to the Labour group. They have already brought an energy and enthusiasm that continues to build on the sense of optimism from the election campaign.

"This team demonstrates a relentless focus on protecting lives and livelihoods and taking the bold action needed to build a fairer and more equal nation coming through this crisis.

"Scottish Labour, under my leadership, will work with anyone in the national interest where there is agreement, but we will not hesitate in pushing the government to go further when it is too timid and we will expose the government’s failures when they get it wrong.”

Edinburgh MSP Daniel Johnson remains as party spokesman for finance and the economy, backed by new Glasgow MSP, and former MP Paul Sweeney on employment and public finance.

Another new MSP, Michael Marra, takes on the education and skills brief, while former teacher Martin Whitfield will be shadow minister for children and young people, life-long learning and youth employment.

Claire Baker becomes the party’s spokesperson on drugs policy, Neil Bibby returns to transport, and Rhoda Grant will take on land reform and the islands.

Shadowing Michael Matheson, the Cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport will be Monica Lennon, with new MSP Mercedes Villalba taking on environment and biodiversity, while Pauline McNeill remains in the justice role, supported by another new MSP Katy Clark.

Mark Griffin has been moved from the social security brief to housing and local government, Pam Duncan-Glancy takes on his former role as well as social justice, and Colin Smyth will shadow the economic development and rural affairs portfolios. New Lothians MSP Foysol Choudhury has been appointed shadow for culture, Europe and international development.

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