Labour MSP Anas Sarwar has been overtaken by Richard Leonard as the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Kezia Dugdale as leader of the Scottish party after Ms Dugdale’s shock decision to quit late last night.
Mr Sarwar, who lost his seat as an MP in 2015, returned to frontline politics after being elected on the Glasgow list at the 2016 Holyrood election.
The former dentist, who is the son of prominent Labour politician Mohammed Sarwar, is now 2/1 with bookmakers Ladbrokes to succeed Ms Dugdale, with Richard Leonard the 6/4 favourite.
Alex Rowley, the interim leader, is now 10/1 to continue the role on a permanent basis after ruling himself out while pro-Corbyn MSP Leonard has had his odds slashed from 10/1 to 5/1 and now to favourite status following a flurry of early money.
Another Corbyn ally in Scotland, Neil Findlay, saw his odds increase to 16/1 after he announced he would not enter the race.
Matthew Shaddick, Ladbrokes’ head of political betting, said: “This is a pretty hard contest to call, but we’ve made Sarwar favourite as he seems pretty ambitious, has some experience as Deputy leader and will be one of the best known potential runners.
“Kezia Dugdale was a pretty strong favourite from the off back in 2015, but this looks a much more open race”
Meanwhile, politicians from across the political spectrum paid tribute to Kezia Dugdale following last night’s announcement.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “We may be opponents, but @kezdugdale led her party with guts and determination and I admired her for that. I wish her well for the future.”
Tory leader Ruth Davidson added: “Leadership can be tough and @kezdugdale deserves the thanks of her party for putting in the hard yards. I wish her well.”
Ms Dugdale’s partner, SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth, wrote: “Dignified, compassionate & principled. PS @kezdugdale are you now free to wash the dishes?”
UK leader Jeremy Corbyn thanked her for her ‘tireless service’, while his predecessor Ed Miliband told Ms Dugdale: “You gave your heart and soul to Scottish Labour. Thank You. You deserve to get your life back. Enjoy.”
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown tweeted: “Thank you for your leadership, total commitment, and loyalty to our treasured Labour Party.”
Lib Dem Deputy leader Jo Swinson wrote that Ms Dugdale left with her ‘head held high’ while controversial SNP MP Angus MacNeil was dubbed ‘unkind’ by a party colleague for tweeting: “Ruth Davidson tipped to continue leading Scot Labour despite Dugdale departure.”
Full odds (via Labrokes)
Richard Leonard - 6/4
Anas Sarwar - 2/1
Jackie Baillie - 8/1
Jenny Marra - 12/1
Paul Sweeney - 12/1
James Kelly - 14/1
Monica Lennon - 16/1
Neil Findlay - 16/1
Pauline McNeill - 20/1
Ian Murray - 25/1
Ged Killen - 28/1
Lesley Laird - 28/1
Danielle Rowley - 33/1
Hugh Gaffney - 33/1
Martin Whitfield - 50/1