Kezia Dugdale denies rift with deputy leader

Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale. Picture; Jane Barlow
Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale. Picture; Jane Barlow
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Kezia Dugdale has dismissed suggestions of a rift with her deputy leader Alex Rowley as she confirmed he will lead the party’s campaign in 2017’s local government elections.

The Scottish Labour leader said she and Mr Rowley are “absolutely united” in their opposition to a possible second independence referendum and added she has “every faith he will do a great job” heading up the party’s campaign in May’s council elections.

It comes after Mr Rowley, who has previously served as election agent to former prime minister Gordon Brown, was reported to say he has never considered himself a Unionist, and added that “Labour is neither Unionist nor Nationalist”.

Ms Dugdale insisted any claims of a split between her and her deputy were “sensationalist nonsense” as she revealed she has tasked him with leading the council election campaign.

Mr Rowley was in charge of Scottish Labour’s Holyrood election campaign in 2016, which saw the party fall behind the Tories to be the third largest in the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Dugdale said: “I’m first and foremost a socialist, I believe in the United Kingdom not for its own sake but because I believe it’s the best means to redistribute wealth and power across the whole of the United Kingdom. That’s a view that Alex shares too. Both of us are absolutely united in making the case against the cuts and for investment in public services.”