Tom Watson has announced this evening that he is to stand down as an MP and is quitting frontline politics after 30 years.
In recent years Watson has clashed with leader Jeremy Corbyn over the party’s Brexit policy and allegations of anti-Semitism within the party.
In the 52-year-old’s resignation letter he does not say he wants Corbyn to become Prime Minister in next month’s general election.
In his resignation letter Watson, who survived an attempt to oust him at the Labour party conference earlier this year, said: “Now is the right time for me to stand down from national politics.
“The disagreements we have had inside the party are well-known; now is not the time to rehearse them again.”
His departure opens the way for an MP more loyal to Jeremy Corbyn to take over as deputy leader, a position that had been one of the last internal strongholds not controlled by the leadership.
The deputy leader of the Labour Party wrote on Twitter this evening: “After 35 years in full-time politics, I’ve decided to step down and will be campaigning to overcome the Tory-fuelled public health crisis.
“I’m as committed to Labour as ever.
“I will spend this election fighting for brilliant Labour candidates and a better future for our country.”
He will continue as deputy leader until December 12 and added in his letter: “I might be leaving Westminster but I won’t be leaving politics altogether.
“I will continue to champion progressive social democracy and a political culture that is inclusive, diverse and respects the opinions of others. In recent years we’ve lost sight of that simple politeness which used to define us as a nation. We need to find it again.”
Thanking Watson for his ‘contribution to the party over the last 30 years’ Jeremy Corbyn said: “Being an MP and Deputy Leader of our Party is far more than a job and I understand how difficult this decision has been for you to make and how deeply you have thought about it.
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
“I respect your conclusion that it is in the best interests of you and your family that you stand down.”
He added: “I’ve always enjoyed our very convivial chats about many things, including cycling, exercise and horticulture.
“I hope the horseradish plants I gave you thrive.”
Watson joins a slew of MPs quitting politics.
A Labour MP told the Financial Times: “So far we’ve seen the Tories haemorrhaging some great MPs.
“Totally possible more of us could go too.”