Scottish Labour insider blasts ‘inept’ Richard Leonard after FMQs disaster

RICHARD Leonard’s ineptitude is “putting the Union at risk”, according to a Scottish Labour insider.

The Central Scotland MSP has been lambasted by a member of his own party after a humiliating turn at First Minister’s Question’s.

Nicola Sturgeon branded him “chief cheerleader” for Boris Johnson’s Tory Government during a debate on the latest GERS figures.

Leonard urged the First Minister to commit to a “quality jobs guarantee scheme” and demanded that she press Westminster to extend the furlough scheme – both of which the Scottish Government has already done.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon brands Richard Leonard ‘chief cheerleader’ for Boris Johnson

The embarrassing episode angered Scottish Labour onlookers. A party source told the Herald: “Richard not only missed an open goal, he wasn’t even on the pitch.

“It’s bad enough that he’s dragging the party down with him, but he’s also putting the Union at risk with his ineptitude.”

A Savanta ComRes survey published last week showed Leonard’s party is on track to win just 17% and 16% in the constituency and list votes respectively at next year’s Holyrood election. 

The Scottish Labour chief’s line of attack at FMQs was picked apart by Sturgeon.

He raised the latest GERS figures which pointed to a current notional deficit of £15 billion. He then asked if the UK-funded furlough scheme showed the value of “solidarity”.

READ MORE: Labour HQ strategists admit Scotland is a lost cause in leaked memo

The First Minister replied: “The furlough scheme is funded by the UK Government borrowing money. The reason why it borrows money for us is because we do not have the powers here to do it ourselves.

“I say that Richard Leonard should use his imagination, and imagine that Scotland was independent right now. He would not have to ask me to plead with a UK Government to borrow more money to extend the job retention scheme; we could do it ourselves, here in Scotland, like other independent countries the world over do.”

She added: “It is probably that conclusion that has led to the situation that we have right now, in which almost half of Richard Leonard’s remaining Labour supporters – which, I grant, is a dwindling band of people – now support Scotland becoming an independent country.”

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