Richard Leonard calls for unity behind Corbyn election "vision"

Richard Leonard issued call for unity
Richard Leonard issued call for unity
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Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has issued a call for unity and insisted Jeremy Corbyn's "unifying vision" was  the reason behind the party's fightback north of the border.

Mr Leonard voiced his disappointment at the departure of seven MSPs to form a new independent group but insisted it is "time to come together for the future, not divide."

It came as former party leader Kezia Dugdale said Labour must be a "broad church."

Read more: Seven MPs quit Labour to form new breakaway Independent Group

Mr Leonard was elected two years ago after Ms Dugdale's shock departure and was seen at the time as a natural left-wing ally to Mr Corbyn.

He said: "I am of course disappointed that these MPs have decided to leave the Labour party but today’s events will not deter us from our mission of working to achieve real and lasting change here in Scotland, and as part of the wider effort to change the UK.

Read more: Ian Murray says Labour is the ‘only vehicle for change’ as seven MPs quit

"I believe as much today as on the day that I joined the Labour Party that it is Labour and Labour alone that can deliver the real and lasting change in the interests of the majority in our society. Labour, the party of the NHS, the Equal Pay Act, of devolution and the Scottish Parliament and the minimum wage is today still the principal vehicle for change in our country.

"Today’s events will simply mean that we will all redouble our efforts to achieve a better and more equal society based on those lasting values.

"The manifesto all Labour MPs stood on in the 2017 general election was and remains a unifying vision. It saw the party make advances, including starting to win back seats in Scotland.

"When young people are fighting for action on climate change, it is time to come together for the future, not divide. The Tory party’s failed solutions represent a dead end. We must do nothing to let them off the hook."

Ms Dugdale had a strained relationship with Mr Corbyn during his time as leader and expressed sympathy for the departing MPs.

She said: "We've got to warn against any idea that the leadership show say Good Riddance to them.

"I think it's a very sad day.

"I want to see a Labour party that's a broad church."