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Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard quits just hours after wealthy potential donors pressure Keir Starmer to remove him

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The leader of Scottish Labour, Richard Leonard, has dramatically resigned from his post tonight just hours after the Labour leader Keir Starmer, alongside Deputy leader Angela Rayner, held a conference call with wealthy potential donors who “warned they would not back the party while [Leonard] remained in post“.

According to The Times, Starmer last night held talks with potential donors – including the multi-millionaire businessman and former Labour donor Willie Haughey, as well as Robert Latham, the lawyer who gave £100k to Starmer’s leadership campaign.

During the call, it is alleged that potential donors told Starmer and Rayner in no uncertain terms that they would not be handing over any cash to the party as long as Mr Leonard – who is widely considered to be on the left of the party and was a political ally of Jeremy Corbyn – remained in his post as leader of Scottish Labour.

However, whilst unnamed sources claimed that the call between Starmer and potential wealthy donors had no bearing on Leonard’s resignation, the extraordinarily coincedental timing of the events has sparked huge anger and suspicion amongst left-wing Labour members.

Responding to events, the former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell tweeted that he was “saddened” at Leonard’s departure, before stating that “questions need to be answered” about whether the now former Scottish Labour leader may have been pressured to resign by the Labour leadership due to the threats of potential donors.

Whilst Ronan Burtenshaw, the Editor of the newly reformed left-wing Tribune Magazine, claimed the news showed the Labour Party was now under the leadership of “millionaire donors“.

A spokesman for the Labour leadership also refused to comment on when Keir Starmer last spoke to Mr Leonard, or whether he had told him to stand down.

However, sources close to Angela Rayner claim that she was was “viciously attacked” during the conference call when “she made clear it’s up to Scottish Labour to elect their leader“:

Announcing his resignation, Leonard refused to comment on whether he was pressured into the decision, but stated he believed it was “in the best interests of the party that I step aside as leader of Scottish Labour with immediate effect“, adding:

“This was not an easy decision, but after three years I feel it is the right one for me and for the party.”

Since his election in April 2019, Keir Starmer has repeatedly come under attack for holding numerous meetings with super-rich potential donors – with many Labour members angered by the clear attempt to shift the party away from being a mass-membership financed organisation, as it became again under Jeremy Corbyn.

Following his unexpected resignation tonight, Richard Leonard – who had led Scottish Labour since 2017 – will leave his post just four months after surviving an attempted coup by the right of the party.

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