Tom Watson quits as Labour deputy leader and MP citing 'personal not political' reasons

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has dropped an election shock by revealing he will not be standing as an MP.

He said he will be quitting his role as deputy to Jeremy Corbyn and not running again in the West Bromwich East seat he has held since 2001.

"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," he wrote.

"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."

In his letter to Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Watson said the decision had been "very difficult".

He added: "But now is the right time for me to stand down from the House of Commons and start a different kind of life. The decision is personal, not political.

"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."

Mr Watson and Mr Corbyn have not always seen eye-to-eye on various issues such as Brexit and how the issue of claims of anti-Semitism in the party were dealt with.

And a statement on behalf of the party was measured in its praise:"Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has thanked Tom for his contribution to the Party over three decades and paid tribute to the work he has done to take on the vested interests of the Murdoch empire, the big sugar companies and the gambling industry.

"After the election, Tom will be focusing on campaigns to overcome the Tory-fuelled public health crisis. He will be setting up a new organisation championing remission for all type 2 diabetics."

Tom Watson and Jeremy Corbyn have not always seen eye-to-eye. Credit: PA

Mr Watson also came under fire recently from the fallout from the collapsed Westminster paedophile inquiry.

An official report said he put pressure on police investigating false allegations of sex abuse by Westminster VIPs.

A review found officers probing an allegation of rape against the late former home secretary Lord Brittan were “fearful of media criticism and public cynicism”.

Mr Watson said Sir Richard Henriques’ report “contained multiple inaccuracies” regarding his involvement.