A former Scottish Labour leader shouldn’t face party suspension for taking part in a reality TV show, Jeremy Corbyn has said.
Kezia Dugdale is set to appear in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, where stars face grim challenges to win a public vote and ultimately be crowned king or queen of the jungle.
Her decision to appear on the programme somewhat overshadowed the vote for her successor, which took place on Saturday, after she stood down in August.
Richard Leonard was voted the new leader of the Scottish branch of the party and he quickly had to answer questions about whether Ms Dugdale would face suspension.
He said he was “a bit disappointed” in her decision but admitted suspension hadn’t been his first thought.
He said: “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.”
In 2012, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries was suspended from her party for choosing to enter the contest. She was reinstated the following year.
Mr 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.”
But Labour leader Mr Corbyn said: “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.”
Former Labour first minister Henry McLeish “urged” her to rethink her decision before she flies to Australia on Sunday.
Jenny Marra, a fellow MSP, tweeted: “Election to parliament is a privilege to serve and represent people. It’s not a shortcut to celebrity.”
Mr Leonard’s leadership rival, Anas Sarwar, also criticised the decision, saying: “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 added that he would be calling in to ensure she “eats every bug possible so she fully enjoys that experience”.
Sky Bet have the MSP at 10-1 to win.