Anas Sarwar is named new leader of the Scottish Labour Party after beating Monica Lennon in vote

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Anas Sarwar is named new leader of the Scottish Labour Party after beating Monica Lennon in vote

Mr Sarwar took 57.6 per cent of the vote compared to Lennon's 42.4 per centPolitician will take over after shock resignation of Richard Leonard in January He previously served as Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour from 2011 to 2014

By Faith Ridler For Mailonline

Published: 11:46 GMT, 27 February 2021 | Updated: 20:14 GMT, 27 February 2021

Anas Sarwar has today been named leader of the Scottish Labour Party after beating Monica Lennon in the vote.

The party was forced to elect a new leader following the shock resignation of Richard Leonard in January, who claimed his departure was in the 'best interests' of Scottish Labour. 

Mr Sarwar, who served as Deputy Leader from 2011 to 2014, won the vote with 57.6 per cent while the party's health spokeswoman Ms Lennon took 42.4 per cent.    

The MSP for Glasgow, the first person from an ethnic minority background to lead a UK party, said his election win was 'the greatest honour of my life'.   

With just 10 weeks before the Holyrood election, Mr Sarwar takes the reins of a party third in the polls, with the latest Ipsos Mori survey putting Labour at 15 per cent in the constituency vote and 14 per cent in the regions.

Anas Sarwar (pictured) has today been named leader of the Scottish Labour Party after beating Monica Lennon in the vote

Pictured: Mr Sarwar and his son Allyan visit Maxwell Park, Glasgow following the announcement

In a video message today, Mr Sarwar said: 'I want to say directly to the people of Scotland - I know Labour has a lot of work to do to win back your trust.

'Because if we're brutally honest, you haven't had the Scottish Labour Party you deserve.

'With rising injustice, inequality and division, I'm sorry we haven't been good enough. I will work day and night to change that, so we can build the country we all need.'

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer extended his congratulations to Mr Sarwar, saying: 'We will fight the Scottish Parliamentary elections by making the case for a socially-just Scotland in a modern United Kingdom.

'Under his leadership, Scottish Labour will focus on what unites us - not what divides us.

'I know Anas will do the hard work that is necessary to win back the trust of the Scottish people and build for the future as we emerge from this pandemic.'

The politician, who served as Deputy Leader from 2011 to 2014, took 57.6 per cent of the vote compared to Ms Lennon's 42.4 per cent. Pictured: Monica Lennon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has long been a political rival of Mr Sarwar, extended her congratulations to the Glasgow MSP on Twitter

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer extended his congratulations to Mr Sarwar, saying: 'We will fight the Scottish Parliamentary elections by making the case for a socially-just Scotland in a modern United Kingdom'

His election, as the first person from an ethnic minority to lead a UK party, was a testament to Scotland, Mr Sarwar said.

'Today we have elected the first-ever ethnic minority leader of a political party in the UK.

'That doesn't say something about me. That says something great about Scotland and its people. But the fight for equality is far from over.

'I'll work with all our diverse communities in Scotland to rebuild the country we love.'

Mr Sarwar added: 'I'm determined that the Labour Party I lead will always be on your side.

'Because I will be a leader who focuses on what unites our country - not what divides it. Together we will build a better future for Scotland.' 

Mr Sarwar said he would now lay out his vision for a 'Covid recovery parliament', which would focus on tackling the economic, health and societal impacts of the pandemic.

The MSP has repeatedly voiced his opposition to another independence referendum, while his opponent in the race said it was important the party did not 'deny democracy' if a pro-independence majority is elected in May.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has long been a political rival of Mr Sarwar and his father before him, extended her congratulations to the Glasgow MSP on Twitter.

'Congratulations to @AnasSarwar - he (and his dad before him) and I are long-time political opponents, but I also like and rate him,' she said

'That may not always be obvious in the weeks ahead as election battle is joined, so worth saying so now.'

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