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SIR KEIR STARMER gave his full backing to Richard Leonard’s leadership today as he refused to comment on whether MP Ian Murray should be investigated over defection talks.
Mr Starmer, who spoke from Edinburgh ahead of a meeting with the Scottish leader, said that he looked forward to working with Mr Leonard ahead of next year’s Holyrood elections.
Mr Leonard saw off an attempted challenge to his authority, as well as a motion of no confidence at the party’s Scottish executive committee last week, which Mr Murray and deputy leader Jackie Baillie are understood to have supported.
The Scottish Labour leader has repeatedly been given the backing of Mr Starmer, who called for unity within the party ahead of next year’s Holyrood elections.
Mr Starmer said: “I have an excellent working relationship with Richard Leonard and I am here to talk to him about our priorities going into the election next year. I look forward to working very closely with Richard.
“What I want to see here in Scotland is for our party to pull together and to focus on the job in hand.”
Edinburgh South MP Mr Murray was also backed by the party leader, despite reportedly holding two sets of talks with other parties about defecting in 2019.
The Morning Star understands a number of members have submitted complaints to the party regarding Mr Murray’s behaviour.
But Mr Starmer refused to say whether he felt that Mr Murray should be investigated for speaking with both the now-defunct Independent Group and the Liberal Democrats about leaving the party, adding that Mr Murray has his “full confidence.”
He said: “The leader of the Labour Party doesn’t get involved in individual complaints: I’m not going to do so.
“We’ve got a process in place, but my relationship with Ian is a good working relationship, he is widely respected, and I will be working with him in the coming weeks, months and years to turn around what we need to do in Scotland.”
Mr Starmer was also asked whether he supported moves to deselect sitting MSPs James Kelly, Jenny Marra, Daniel Johnson and Mark Griffin who had spoken out against Mr Leonard.
He said: “I am a strong believer in a united Labour Party and that is one of the central arguments of my leadership.”
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