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Tom Watson: Labour ‘brutality and hostility’ behind decision to quit | Politics News

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Former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has said he quit frontline politics because of the “brutality and hostility” within his party.

In excerpts released from an interview with the Guardian newspaper due to be published on Saturday, the former Midlands MP said: “The point is that the brutality and hostility is real and it’s day to day…

“So I just thought: now’s the time to take a leap, do something different. You’ve had a good innings. You’ve done good stuff. Go now.”

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson
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Mr Watson announced in November that he would be stepping down

Mr Watson blamed poor messaging for the party’s dismal election result, and also admitted for the first time that he did not vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 leadership contest.

Instead, he backed his challenger Owen Smith, despite being the party’s deputy leader.

Mr Watson announced he was quitting Westminster in November, saying the decision was “personal, not political”.

His move came after a wider shake up of his life during which he lost eight stone and started retraining as a gym instructor.

He also thanked Mr Corbyn for the “decency and courtesy” he had shown.

Mr Watson, a former minister, was frequently at loggerheads with those at the top of Labour, becoming a hate-figure for many supporters loyal to the party leader.

In the interview, Mr Watson also said that police at on point told him a Labour supporter had been arrested for making a death threat via the party that officials had not told him about.

After deciding not to stand in December’s election, Mr Watson’s West Bromwich East seat was lost to the Conservatives for the first time.

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Speaking about the the party’s dismal result nationwide, he said: “I don’t even know what the message of our campaign was… there were announcements everywhere, but none of them got through because there were so many.

“You knew what Boris Johnson’s was: Get Brexit done. What was the Labour strapline?”

Mr Watson also said he believed Mr Corbyn should have resigned in 2016 following a vote of no confidence from the party’s MPs.

“I thought, as soon as the leader loses the confidence of the parliamentary party it’s almost impossible to see how you can form a government. I thought Jeremy should have resigned, and he nearly did,” he said.

His comments will likely play into the contest to succeed Mr Corbyn as Labour leader.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow business minister Clive Lewis are the only two MPs to officially declare their intention to run, but more candidates are expected to enter the race in the New Year.

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