Scottish Labour’s ruling body has approved a timetable to elect a new leader who will be in place by the end of February.

The process begins on Saturday with expressions of interest for the leadership closing on Sunday, and nominations from MSPs open from Monday 18 January to noon on Tuesday 19 January.

If more than one candidate is validly nominated, the ballot will open on Tuesday 9 February and close on Friday 26 February.

The winner will be declared at an online announcement event on Saturday February 27.Scottish Labour chair Cara Hilton said: “The Scottish Executive Commitee today agreed that a new leader of the Scottish Labour Party will be elected by a ballot of party members and affiliated trades union members in February.

“The new leader will be announced on 27 February and will lead Scottish Labour into the 2021 Scottish Parliament election with a fresh energy to carry Labour’s message and take the fight to the Tories and the SNP.”

The election of a new leader of the party is necessary after the resignation on Thursday by Richard Leonard.