Monday 18 November 2019

UK Labour deputy leader quits as MP in shock move

British Labour MP Tom Watson, who is standing down at the general election next month. Picture: PA
British Labour MP Tom Watson, who is standing down at the general election next month. Picture: PA

Gavin Cordon

Tom Watson has announced that he is stepping down as deputy leader of the UK Labour Party.

In a shock announcement, Mr Watson said he would not be seeking re-election as an MP in next month's British general election.

In a letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, he said the time had come to "start a different kind of life".

"The decision is personal, not political," he said.

"The last few years have been among the most transformational of my personal life, second only to becoming a proud father of two beautiful children.

"I've become healthy for the first time and I intend to continue with this work in the years to come."

He said he would remain as deputy leader until polling day on December 12 and would be playing an "active part" in Labour's election campaign.

Mr Watson was elected to the position in 2015, at the same time as Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader.

During their time together at the top of the party the two clashed repeatedly, with Mr Watson, a former ally of Gordon Brown, becoming a focus for the "moderate" opposition in the party to Mr Corbyn.

He was publicly critical of the leadership's attempts to tackle anti-Semitism in the party and led moves to push it into supporting a second referendum on the EU, despite the entrenched resistance of the leader.

Most recently, he defied Mr Corbyn by calling for the party to back a new public vote before the country went to the polls.

His opposition to Mr Corbyn angered allies of the Labour leader and on the eve of the Labour Party conference in September, they made an unsuccessful attempt to oust him by abolishing the post of deputy leader.

In recent months, he has faced criticism over his role in promoting the false claims of a Westminster paedophile ring made by the fantasist Carl Beech, which led to a number of public figures being investigated by police.

Irish Independent

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