Alan Johnson backs Anas Sarwar in Scottish Labour leadership race

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Former home secretary Alan Johnson has given his backing to Scottish Labour leadership contender Anas Sarwar.

Mr Johnson, who led Labour’s campaign for remaining in the European Union (EU) last year, said the Glasgow MSP was best-placed to “fight a hard Tory Brexit”.

Mr Sarwar is competing against left-wing MSP Richard Leonard in the contest to succeed Kezia Dugdale, with voting now under way.

Mr Johnson, a former general secretary of the Union of Communication Workers who served as a Labour MP for 20 years, said he believed Mr Sarwar ” has the ideas and the vision to lead Labour into government in Scotland”.

“He will fight for jobs and workers’ rights by supporting UK membership of the EU single market and customs union,” he said.

“That’s vitally important because hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK depend on single market membership.

“Trade unionists across the country know the importance of fighting a hard Tory Brexit and Anas will not back away from that fight.

“I urge members and trade unionists across Scotland to vote for him.”

Mr Sarwar said: “Our party owes a huge debt of gratitude to Alan for standing up for workers and leading our positive campaign to remain in the EU last year.

“His roles in the trade union movement and at the top of government mean that members listen to what he has to say and know that he will always defend our party and our country’s workers.

“A hard Tory Brexit will put workers on the path towards another lost decade, with 300,000 jobs in Scotland linked to our membership of the European single market.

“No-one can credibly say they want to protect jobs and not support membership of the single market and the customs union.

“I’m proud to be standing in this contest as the only candidate who has never, and will never, leave workers behind by voting against the Labour Party and with the Tories on Brexit.”