A new crisis emerged Friday evening as Corbyn allies tried to pass a motion that would abolish the position of deputy, saying that Watson had been “disloyal” and called on Labour’s NEC to scrap the role. However the attempted purge to remove Watson failed as it did not receive the two-thirds majority required at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting on Friday.
It is understood that another attempt to ‘purge’ Watson will be made on Saturday and could be successful. The timing, on the day of the Labour Conference, has caused deep splits in the party just when an election is only a few weeks away.
Momentum, the campaign that was set up to support Jeremy Corbyn and successfully helped him become leader of the Labour Party, have been bitterly opposed to Watson’s frequent interventions on key issues such as Brexit.
Tom Watson has been at odds with Corbyn on a number of stances, and has publicly rebuked some of his positions including on a vote for Scottish Independence, which he opposed in a video message to Labour supporters on Twitter. Watson will again face the prospect of having his post as deputy leader being abolished at 10am BST on Saturday. Watson, who commands the support of up to 100 Labour MPs, is a major figure at the centre of the party and his removal as deputy leader would bring the Labour party further to the left.
The Labour Conference will now be overshadowed by party infighting just when it needs to build support for its position on Brexit, which is likely to take a backseat as speculation mounts over whether the Labour Party may even split into two.
Could this be the beginning of a bigger shift in Labour’s position?