Leader of Scottish Labour backs Owen Smith as first leadership ballots sent out

Kezia Dugdale says she does not believe Jeremy Corbyn "can unite our party"

Leader of Scottish Labour backs Owen Smith as first leadership ballots sent out

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale. Image: John Linton / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The leader of the Scottish branch of the Labour Party has said she will vote for Owen Smith over Jeremy Corbyn in the upcoming party leadership election.

Writing in the Daily Record, Kezia Dugdale said she does not believe Mr Corbyn "can unite our party and lead us into government" or "appeal to a broad enough section of voters to win an election".

She says the only question that matters to her is who is best placed to lead the party into an election and serve as prime minister.

Ms Dugdale writes: "Owen Smith gets my vote. I believe he can unite our party and move us on from the divisions that exist under the current leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

"Owen understands that to have a chance of implementing Labour values, we need to win over some of those who didn’t vote for us at the last election."

She adds that it is a "fact" that Mr Corbyn has lost the confidence of a majority of Labour MPs in Westminster.

In June, 172 MPs voted in favour of a no confidence motion in Mr Corbyn with 40 against.

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn told BBC that "a majority of Scottish Labour members would be backing him in the ballot".

Owen Smith, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter that it was "fantastic" to have Ms Dugdale's support, describing her as "a brilliant leader and our most senior elected [woman]".

The two candidates are due to attend a leadership debate in Glasgow on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the first ballots in the leadership election have been sent out to British Labour members, with an estimated 640,000 eligible to cast their votes.