Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has unexpectedly quit as party leader.
The Central Scotland MSP said: “I have come to the conclusion it is in the best interests of the party that I step aside as leader of Scottish Labour with immediate effect.
“This was not an easy decision, but after three years I feel it is the right one for me and for the Party.”
Leonard was first elected in 2016 and became leader in the following year. During his time in the post, Scottish Labour came fifth in the European election and lost six of their seven MSPs at the last general election.
“Both Governments have mishandled its response to Covid, with devastating consequences not least in our care homes,” he said.
He added: “I have thought long and hard over the Christmas period about what this crisis means, and the approach Scottish Labour takes to help tackle it. I have also considered what the speculation about my leadership does to our ability to get Labour’s message across. This has become a distraction.
“I want to thank all those people who placed their hopes in me, and who worked with me in good times and bad. This experience and the great people I have met will live with me forever. I owe a huge debt in particular to all those party members who work tirelessly for the cause of Labour.”