UNDER-PRESSURE Richard Leonard has ruled out a leadership contest – stressing it “doesn’t make any sense” eight months before a crunch Holyrood election.

A growing number of Labour politicians have called for Mr Leonard to quit as the leader of the Scottish party – including four of his own MSPs and one of UK Labour leader Keir Starmer’s top team.

Three Labour peers have also called for Mr Leonard to step aside, but he has labelled those behind the internal backlash as “disgruntled”.

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Mr Leonard has indicated that a leadership contest is not needed - claiming his internal opponents “never really accepted” his victory as leader of Scottish Labour.

He said: “If the Labour party was convulsed into an internal leadership battle, that would take two to three months to get through, it just doesn’t make any sense for the Labour party, even if I thought it would reassert my authority as the leader.

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“In my view, what the last few days have shown is that there are too many people that are inward looking – what we need to be as a party is outward looking.”

He added: “There’s a group within the parliamentary group in Holyrood who have never really accepted the decision of the party membership in 2017 to elect me as the Scottish Labour Party leader.

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“I’ve always had to try to face down some of that opposition within the Labour group, but what I take heart from is the extent to which the party membership, those people who elected me to lead Scottish Labour, are voicing their support for me and are demanding that I do lead the Scottish Labour Party into next year’s elections.”