Kezia Dugdale quits Scottish Parliament for top uni job

Kezia Dugdale

Kezia Dugdale, former leader of the Scottish Labour Party, is to leave Holyrood for a new role at the University of Glasgow.

Dugdale will step down as an MSP in July to become director of the John Smith Centre for Public Service.

In a statement, she said that her new role will revolve around “rebuilding faith in politics.”

“I have devoted my working life to public service, and this is an incredibly exciting new opportunity for me to lead the work of the John Smith Centre,” she said on Monday (April 29).

“I have devoted my working life to public service.”

— Kezia Dugdale

“Disruptive events and the rise of populism has led to increasingly polarised and emotional politics where rational, evidence-based thinking has lost its standing.

“Faith in public service, politics and the political process has to be restored and that progress must be sustainable.”

Nicola Sturgeon calls Kezia Dugdale’s departure ‘a big loss’

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon wished Dugdale well over Twitter.

“As political opponents, she and I have had our fair share of clashes over the years, but I think she is a big loss to Scottish Labour and to the Scottish Parliament,” she wrote.

“I hope she enjoys her new challenge.”

Kezia Dugdale, Nicola Sturgeon, and Ruth Davidson laughing during BBC Scotland's live election debate

Kezia Dugdale, Nicola Sturgeon, and Ruth Davidson during BBC Scotland’s live election debate on May 21, 2017. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

Dugdale recently won a legal battle with a blogger she accused of sending “homophobic tweets,” who then sued her for defamation.

Labour originally agreed to fund the court case but withdrew its financial support when the bill began approaching £100,000, a move which Dugdale said left her “crushed” and close to bankruptcy.

Kezia Dugdale was Scottish Labour’s youngest leader

The 37-year-old has served as an MSP since 2011.

She became Scottish Labour’s youngest-ever leader in August 2015, but quit suddenly in August 2017 following tensions with the UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

At the time she denied she was leaving to avoid being pushed out by Corbyn supporters, but told the BBC that “fresh energy, drive and a new mandate” were needed.

Shortly before leaving the top post, Dugdale announced she was in a relationship with SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth.

That November, she appeared as a contestant on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.

She defended her decision to take time away from her Lothian constituents, calling the show “an amazing opportunity to talk to young people.” Dugdale donated her MSP salary for the three weeks she spent in Australia to charity.

In recent months Dugdale, who calls herself “proudly pro-European,” has voiced her support for a second Brexit referendum.