LABOUR’S new leader has vowed to make “connecting with the Scottish public” his priority as the country’s only party MP returns to the front bench.

Ian Murray MP for Edinburgh South was re-appointed as Shadow Scottish Secretary by Sir Keir Starmer yesterday, after he resigned from the post in 2016 under Jeremy Corbyn while questioning his leadership.

Mr Murray said: “It is an honour to join Keir’s Shadow Cabinet and the fantastic new team he is building.

“Our immediate priority is to provide an effective and constructive opposition at a time of national emergency.

“But there is also a huge rebuilding task after we lost the trust of voters, and Keir understands that Labour’s road back to power runs directly through Scotland.

“I look forward to standing up for the people of Scotland in the Commons and holding the Tories to account, working in partnership with Richard Leonard and Jackie Baillie as they hold the SNP to account in Holyrood.

“By remaining true to our values of solidarity and internationalism, we will be clear on our constitutional position: opposing the SNP’s divisive nationalism and an unwanted second independence referendum; forming a constitutional convention to bring power closer to the people; and supporting the closest possible relationship with the EU.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “At this time of crisis, it is vital that Scottish Labour works closely with our colleagues in Westminster and Ian will play a key role in ensuring this happens.”

Sir Keir added: “The road back to connecting with the Scottish public will not be quick or easy, but it will be my priority.

“I am delighted that Ian is joining my frontbench team. His experience of winning in Scotland and his understanding of the constitution will be vital for our party’s future, with Holyrood elections just over one year away.

“I look forward to uniting our party and working with Ian, Richard and Jackie so that Labour stands up for the interests of the Scottish people, their public services, their well-being and their prosperity.”

Other familiar faces returned to the party’s top team, including former leader Ed Milliband, who will take up the role of shadow business, energy and industrial secretary, and David Lammy who is covering the justice brief.

Sir Keir , who won the leadership contest on Saturday, said the line-up showed the “breadth, depth and talents” of the party and presented it as a “gender balanced” cabinet.

There are 17 women and 15 men, including seven members from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME).

It was announced on Sunday that rival leadership contenders Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy would be given leading roles also, as shadow education secretary and shadow foreign secretary respectively.

Anneliese Dodds, who won her seat during the 2017 general election was given the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer position - becoming the first woman ever to hold the role.

The MP for Oxford East said it was “a surprise” when she received the phone call from the new leader of Opposition and was “delighted” to accept her promotion.

She said it was a “strange kind of celebration” for her and her supporters due to the current coronavirus crisis.

Former leader Ed Milliband, who also served as climate and energy secretary under Gordon Brown, wrote on Twitter that he was “looking forward to serving… alongside such a talented team”.

He said everyone must “focus on playing our part” to tackle the virus outbreak, adding: “We cannot go back to business as usual after this crisis.”

Angela Rayner, who was elected as the deputy leader at the weekend,w as named chair of the Labour party while Emily Thornberry, who ran against Sir Keir in the leadership race, is the new shadow international trade secretary.

Last night Ms Rayner paid tribute to departing colleagues, saying: “Thank you to all those who have left the front bench for your hard work, which will no doubt continue on the backbenches and in select committees. It was a pleasure to work with you all, and I know that together we will carry on fighting for socialism with the same passion.”