UK Politics

Tom Watson warns failed plot to oust him could damage Labours election chances

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Labour party deputy leader Tom Watson arrives for the Labour Party Conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 21, 2019. See PA story LABOUR Main. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson says the war surrounding his post could backfire (Picture: PA)

A civil raging at the top of the Labour Party could stop voters seeing them as a credible alternative government, deputy leader Tom Watson has warned.

It comes after he described an attempt to oust him on the eve of the party conference as a drive-by shooting.

The plot to scrap his elected position was abandoned today after an intervention by Jeremy Corbyn, who has clashed with Watson on many occasions.

The scheme was spearheaded by Jon Lansman, head of the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group.

Met by cheering supporters as he arrived at Brighton station this afternoon for the first day of the conference, Watson was scathing about Lansman.

He said: I think it says there are some people who dont think clear-headedly, who risk us having a transformative government by playing sectarian games.

Labour party deputy leader Tom Watson arrives for the Labour Party Conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 21, 2019. See PA story LABOUR Main. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Watson gave a scathing assessment of Jon Lansman as he arrived in Brighton today (Picture: PA)

I put Jon Lansman in that category and I think its very sad because I think he has undermined himself and the members of his organisation, many of whom have been in touch with me today and said they were not consulted when he did that and they were very disappointed with him personally.

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But thats politics, Ive been around a long time and I want us to reunite now.

Watson was the target of an ambush at the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) on Friday night, at which he was not present due to family commitments.

Although a surprise effort to abolish the post of deputy was ruled out of order by chair Wendy Nichols, those present voted by 17-10 to debate it anyway – just short of the two-thirds majority required under party rules.

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The motion was due to be debated at this mornings meeting of the NEC, just hours before the official start of a party conference, which was supposed to be focused on preparing for a looming election.

Watsons position will now instead by subject to a review after the intervention from Corbyn, who refused refused to say when he first new about the plot or if he had confidence in his deputy.

Instead he told reporters: Tom Watson is the deputy leader of the party and I enjoy working with him.

epa07859668 Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Britain, 21 September 2019. Labour Party Conference runs from 21 to 25 September. EPA/ANDY RAIN

Jeremy Corbyn has not said when he first learnt of the plan to topple Watson (Picture: EPA)

The NEC agreed this morning that we are going to consult on the future of diversifying the deputy leadership position to reflect the diversity of our society.

Corbyn said there was happy and united mood at the NEC and the conference will be totally united on defeating this Tory Government.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn and Brighton Council leader, Nancy Platt walk with young party members along Brighton Promenade ahead of the 2019 Labour Party Conference on September 19, 2019 in Brighton, England. Labour return to Brighton for the 2019 conference against a backdrop of political turmoil over Brexit. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'shutting down debate' with Brexit policy 'fudge'

Watson said he had no idea what Jeremy knew or didnt know.

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He added: Both of us would want to reunite the conference after what has been, frankly, quite a ridiculous start to it and totally unnecessary.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband said those responsible for trying to oust Mr Watson had taken leave of their senses.

Other MPs were not so diplomatic, with Yvette Cooper describing the move as completely mad and Ben Bradshaw branding it totally f** insane.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry (fourth left) at the Anti-Brexit 'Trust the People' march and rally during the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 21, 2019. See PA story LABOUR Main. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

It comes as the Labour Party is still grappling over how to approach Brexit (Picture: PA)

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