UK

Jeremy Corbyn Says Kezia Dugdale Should Not Be Suspended From The Labour Party For Going on 'I'm A Celeb'

Dudgale’s successor said that suspension will be 'considered'.

18/11/2017 17:59 GMT | Updated 18/11/2017 18:11 GMT

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that Kezia Dugdale should not be suspended from the party for going on reality TV show I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

Dudgale’s successor as leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Richard Leonard, suggested earlier today that suspension was something the party’s MSPs should “consider”.

But Corbyn told the Press Association on Saturday: “It’s her choice to go on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, I don’t think it’s appropriate to suspend someone from the party for doing that, that’s her choice.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is rumoured to be heading into the I'm A Celeb jungle.

Dugdale looks set to join the likes of boxer Amir Khan, former MEP Stanley Johnson and singer Vanessa White in the jungle for the ITV show.

Staunch Corbyn supporter Leonard was named Scottish Labour leader after defeating his rival Anas Sarwar on Saturday.

He won 56.7% of the vote and a clear majority amongst members and affiliated supporters, telling the crowd at his election in Scotland today that the party north of the border “will become a movement for socialism” under his leadership, adding “we need a change to the political culture”. 

But his victory in the leadership race was in part overshadowed by news his predecessor is to head to Australia to take part in the TV programme, which begins on Sunday.

Leonard said he was a “bit disappointed” by Dugdale’s decision, and Scottish Labour would consider if the former leader should be suspended as a result.

Speaking in Glasgow just after he was elected leader, Leonard said suspension was not his initial reaction but he added: “I think it’s something the group will have to consider.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said it is Dugdale's 'choice' to go on the reality TV show.

It is unclear if Dugdale informed or sought approval from Scottish Labour party bosses about the move.

Leonard told journalists: “I awoke as many other people did this morning to the news that Kezia is going into that programme, and I think that is something the group is going to have to consider over the next few days and I think we will consider.”

He added: “I was a bit disappointed but I think it is a decision the group is going to have to consider.”

In 2012 the Conservative Party suspended MP Nadine Dorries for taking part in the same programme, although she was reinstated the following year.

Leonard said: “I don’t know the circumstances of Nadine Dorries and I don’t at this stage know all the circumstances of Kezia’s decision, so we will need to give that due consideration at the group over the next few days.”

Dugdale became the leader of Scottish Labour after the party’s trouncing in the 2015 general election, in which it lost 40 of the 41 seats it had held north of the border to the SNP.

She stepped down suddenly in August, prompting the leadership contest, with both Leonard and fellow MSP Anas Sarwar vying to succeed her.

Sarwar said he would have preferred the former leader to remain at Holyrood rather than taking part in a reality TV programme.

He said: “She’s made the decision she had. I would prefer that she was in the Parliament working for her constituents, working for the Labour Party.

“I want us focusing on education, the NHS, and employability, rather than kangaroo testicles.”

He said he wanted Dugdale to stay in politics and the Labour Party after taking part in the show, although Sarwar admitted taking part in the programme was “not a decision I would have made”.

But he quipped: “Now she has made that decision I want us to have that phone bank running to make sure that she eats every bug possible, is in the pit with the rats as much as possible, so she fully enjoys that experience and is raring to go when she comes back.”