Watson steps down as Labour deputy leader and MP
TOM Watson has announced that he is stepping down as deputy leader of the Labour Party.
In a shock announcement, Mr Watson said that he would not be seeking re-election as an MP in the forthcoming General Election.
In a letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, he said that 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 that he would remain as deputy leader until polling day in December 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 men 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 antiSemitism 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 in a general election.