KEZIA Dugdale has quit as leader of Scottish Labour after less than two years in the job.

The Lothians MSP informed senior figures of her decision today on the eve of the new Holyrood session commencing next month.

Her decision to quit means Labour faces the prospect of a third leadership contest since the 2014 independence referendum.

She insisted she was leaving the party in a much better state than she had found it.

But she said a new leader was needed with "fresh energy, drive and a new mandate".

Ms Dugdale said she wanted to give her successor the "space and time" to prepare for the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021.

And she strongly denied suggestions that she was leaving now in order to avoid being pushed out by supporters of Mr Corbyn.

Ms Dugdale, who is leaving with immediate effect, said she had devoted "every waking moment of my life" to improving Labour's fortunes in Scotland, with a lot of progress being made and the party now ready for someone else to take it on the next stage of its journey.

She added: "I have thought long and hard about this. I care deeply about the Labour Party - I love it and I have devoted my adult life to serving it in a number of different capacities.

"And I have just come to the conclusion that the best thing for it, the Labour Party, this precious, precious thing that has done so much good in our country, and indeed for me, is to pass that baton on."

Ms Dugdale replaced Jim Murphy as Scottish Labour leader in August 2015, after the party lost all but one of its Westminster seats in Scotland to the SNP.

Under her leadership, Labour finished third behind the SNP and Scottish Conservatives in last year's Scottish Parliament election - but went on to win seven seats in the snap general election in June.

Ms Dugdale backed Owen Smith to replace Mr Corbyn in last year's leadership contest, arguing at the time that: "I don't think Jeremy can unite our party and lead us into government."

Labour's stronger than expected performance in this year's general election has seen pressure mount on her from supporters of Mr Corbyn, who believe the party's improvement in Scotland was down to him rather than Ms Dugdale.

Mr Corbyn recently completed a five-day tour of Scotland, when he appeared alongside Ms Dugdale at events in Glasgow.