Jeremy Corbyn warns new Scottish Labour leader against suspending Kezia Dugdale
Jeremy Corbyn has said newly-elected Scottish Labour boss Richard Leonard should not suspend Kezia Dugdale over her decision to appear on a reality TV show.
The Labour leader said he did not think it was “appropriate” to suspend the party's former Scottish chief for agreeing to appear on I’m a I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!.
Mr Corbyn’s call came shortly after his counterpart north of the border said the party would “consider” action against Ms Dugdale “over the next few days”.
The move comes after leftwinger Mr Leonard, who was only elected as an MSP last year, pipped moderate opponent Anas Sarwar to the top job in Scottish Labour yesterday.
When asked about whether his predecessor could face suspension, Mr Leonard responded: “I awoke as many other people did this morning to the news that Kezia is going into that programme, and I think that is something the group is going to have to consider over the next few days and I think we will consider.”
But Mr Corbyn later said: “It's her choice to go on I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!, I don't think it's appropriate to suspend someone from the party for doing that, that's her choice.”
The Lothian MSP also reportedly failed to tell either Mr Leonard or Mr Sarwar of her plans to enter the jungle, asking only for the three weeks off.
The Sun say while she vowed to donate a cut of her fee and Scottish parliament salary to charity groups, one insider added: "She didn’t go into the specifics of it being I’m A Celebrity.
"She asked both Richard and Anas, ‘Can I go away for three weeks?’ Both candidates said yes."
Ms Dugdale’s move comes after Conservative MP Nadine Dorries was suspended from her party for choosing to enter the contest in 2012.
The MP faced scathing criticism for the move, however was reinstated the following year.
Mr Leonard said: “I don't know the circumstances of Nadine Dorries and I don't at this stage know all the circumstances of Kezia's decision, so we will need to give that due consideration at the group over the next few days.”
Labour MSP Jenny Marra tweeted that elected office should not be treated as a “shortcut to celebrity”.
However a source close to Ms Dugdale told The Sun it was "a fantastic opportunity for Kez to speak about politics and Labour values on one of the most popular and watched TV shows in the UK".
The 36-year-old MSP is due to join Boris Johnson’s dad Stanley in Australia, among others, as they compete for the title of King or Queen of the Jungle.