September 20, 2019
Labour’s civil war has dramatically reignited after a shock move to abolish Tom Watson’s post as deputy leader of the party.
Labour NEC In Shock Move To Abolish Tom Watsons Deputy Leader Post
At a meeting of the National Executive Committee on Friday night, Momentum founder Jon Lansman proposed a motion to scrap the post, citing Watson’s disloyalty over Brexit.
The chair of the NEC ruled the motion out of order before members voted 17  to 10 hear it. Without a required two thirds majority, the motion was not discussed but is now expected to be on the agenda on Saturday.
Watson had earlier given his apologies for his expected absence from the meeting, given childcare commitments.
However, Momentum members plus Unite union reps backed the radical proposal.
Lansman said that Watson’s call earlier last week for a referendum on Brexit to  take place before a general election, and for the party to campaign for Remain, was proof that he was out of step with the leadership.
A Momentum source told HuffPost UK: “No one person is more important than beating Boris Johnson, ending austerity and tackling the climate emergency. We just can’t afford to go into an election with a deputy leader set on wrecking Labour’s chances. 
“Labour members overwhelmingly want a deputy leadership election, but our outdated rulebook won’t let it happen. You need 20% of Labour MPs to trigger an election, and they just won’t let the members have a fair and open election.”
The audacious move by Lansman - at a meeting Jeremy Corbyn also did not attend - is sure to spark complaints from many Labour MPs on the eve of the party’s annual conference in Brighton.
It remains unclear how Lansman could bring the motion again a second time as under party standing orders once a motion is voted on it cannot be brought again for three  months.
At last year’s conference, Watson’s critics tried to push plans for a female-only deputy Labour leader post.
The NEC voted to formally support a radical rule change to establish a second deputy to serve alongside Watson.
But the move was shelved after fears among Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters that it was too soon to install a candidate preferred by the leadership.
Watson had backed the idea, despite suspicions that it had been intended to dilute his own role.
The local constituency party that had tabled the plan decided to withdraw its motion on the floor of the conference, killing off any chance of a vote on it.
A flurry of speculation suggested that Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey or Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler would all be urged to run for the new post.
 
This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.
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