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Senior Scottish Labour figure quits amid independence row

Brian Roy, who had worked for the Labour Party since 2007, said he had decided to step down in order to move on to ‘new challenges’.

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale with Brian Roy (left) (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale with Brian Roy (left) (Andrew Milligan/PA)

By Lewis McKenzie, PA Scotland Political Reporter

A senior Scottish Labour official has quit amid divisions over the party’s position on a second independence referendum.

On Friday, Brian Roy announced his resignation as general secretary of the party, having been in the role for five years.

Mr Roy, who had worked for the Labour Party since 2007, said he had decided to step down in order to move on to “new challenges”.

The party has indicated that deputy general secretary Lorna Finlayson will act as interim general secretary pending a recruitment process.

Mr Roy said: “After 12 years working for the Labour Party, under four UK Labour leaders and seven Scottish leaders, it is time for me to move on to new challenges.

“Having been at the very centre of Scottish Labour during the most turbulent political times, I have worked hard to unite the party, drive our campaigns forward, develop and diversify our candidates, and modernise our campaign machine.

“It has been a privilege to work with Labour prime ministers and a Labour first minister, with many leaders in between, and I sincerely wish Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn the very best as they prepare to win again as a party of government.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard thanked Mr Roy for his work within the party.

“On behalf of Labour Party members up and down Scotland, I want to thank Brian for his dedication and hard work for our party over the last 12 years,” he said.

“His extensive knowledge of, and loyalty to, the Labour Party, and his passion for our values, remains undiminished. He has led the party organisation and the party’s staff as our general secretary through a very turbulent time.

“We all wish him every good wish for the future.”

Brian Roy’s experience and knowledge has been invaluable to Scottish Labour, and to me personally Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also expressed his thanks to Mr Roy for his dedication to the party.

He said: “Brian Roy’s experience and knowledge has been invaluable to Scottish Labour, and to me personally, and I thank him for his dedication to our party and our movement.

“Brian is Labour through and through, and his charity cycle ride for Palestine is a great example of his commitment to international solidarity and justice. I wish him all the very best for the future.”

Earlier this week, shadow chancellor John McDonnell was criticised by Labour’s MSP group at Holyrood after saying that a Labour government would not seek to block a future referendum on Scottish independence.

The party in Scotland has campaigned against holding another referendum, with Mr Leonard having previously indicated that it would refuse to grant Holyrood the power to hold another vote.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “The Labour Party in Scotland are battering themselves into oblivion.

“The last thing they need is more interference from their madcap extremists in London.

“Barely a week goes by when a good person doesn’t jump from the Labour ship, and it just inflicts deeper wounds from which they won’t recover.

“If Scottish Labour can’t even stand up against their own party, how can anyone expect them to stand up to the SNP?”

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie issued an appeal for “Labour moderates” to join his party.

He said: “Labour is losing moderates as Jeremy Corbyn and his team have made it abundantly clear they will abandon Scotland’s place in the UK if it inches them closer to power.

“Moderates will find a home in the Scottish Liberal Democrats as we robustly support Scotland’s place in the UK and the EU.”

PA

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