ANAS Sarwar has been formally endorsed by more than of his party’s elected parliamentarians to be the next leader of Scottish Labour.

The Glasgow MSP has received signed nominations from 12 of the 23-strong group at Holyrood and Scotland’s sole Labour MP, Ian Murray.

Labour peer George Foulkes is another supporter.

Mr Sarwar, the early favorite to replace Richard Leonard, has also been backed by the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, the UK’s fifth largest trade union.

The nominations come on top of backing from over 70 Labour councillors, more than a quarter of the total, as the “candidate best placed to help rebuild the Scottish Labour Party, to transform us into a credible opposition and a party that is fit for the future”.

Mr Sarwar’s rival for the leadership, central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon, is understood to be revealing her MSP and union backers tomorrow.

The two candidates are due to have a virtual hustings before MSPs this evening.

Mr Sarwar said: “I’m honoured to have the backing of Usdaw and would like to thank all the parliamentarians, councillors, members and trade unionists who are supporting my campaign. 

“I am determined to rebuild our party and the Labour movement, so that we can rebuild Scotland for everyone.

“Over the coming weeks I will be putting my vision to members and I’m looking forward to a friendly and positive campaign that demonstrates the very best of our movement.

“More than ever, our party and our country needs political leadership that will bring people together.”

Stewart Forrest, Usdaw Divisional Officer, said: “Usdaw members, their families and working people across Scotland need a strong Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament and across the country, speaking out for them on their issues. 

“With the election coming in May, it is crucial that Scottish Labour has a leader who can hit the ground running, bring the party together and put a positive message to the country. We believe that Anas Sarwar is the right person to do that and take us forward.”

Nominations for the leadership close at noon on Tuesday. 

Mr Leonard equity last Thursday with immediate effect after three years in which he signally failed to connect with voters, and oversaw two disastrous electoral reversals.

Under a fast-track system, party members will choose the next leader by February 27, ahead of the Holyrood election campaign starting in earnest in March.