Anas Sarwar returns to Scottish Labour frontbench in reshuffle

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has brought former leadership rival Anas Sarwar back on to his frontbench as part of a reshuffle.

Anas Sarwar has returned to the front bench
Anas Sarwar has returned to the front bench

The Glasgow MSP has been appointed Scottish Labour’s constitutional spokesman, taking over from Alex Rowley, who will now share Mr Leonard’s economy brief.

Mr Sarwar was defeated for the Scottish Labour leadership by Mr Leonard in 2017 and was sacked as health spokesman the following year.

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His return has been announced in a minor party reshuffle, in which Rhoda Grant has been named as the replacement for James Kelly, who quit as justice spokesman in September amid criticism of the party’s leadership.

Elaine Smith will become the party’s poverty spokeswoman.

Mr Sarwar said: “I’m pleased to be asked by Richard to rejoin the Scottish Labour shadow cabinet.

“In the midst of a pandemic, where people’s lives and livelihoods are at risk, we need to focus on bringing our country together again to reflect the priorities of the people of Scotland.

“Covid-19 has changed Scotland and the world so the idea that we can return to the old arguments and old rivalries is just not credible.”

Mr Leonard said: “I am delighted to welcome back my friend Anas Sarwar to the shadow cabinet.

“In his new role as shadow constitution minister, Anas will be a part of a forward-looking and united Scottish Labour frontbench at Holyrood, which will hold Nicola Sturgeon’s Government to account over its failures in the handling of the Covid pandemic and promote Scottish Labour’s transformative programme ahead of next year’s election.”