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Dawn Butler becomes first candidate to enter Labour deputy leadership race

3 min read

Dawn Butler has announced that she will run to succeed Tom Watson as deputy leader of the Labour party.

The shadow equalities minister became the first of the party's top brass to bid for the post, following Mr Watson's shock resignation.

He made the shock announcement, in which he also revealed his is quitting Parliament, on Wednesday night.

Brent Central MP Ms Butler, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, told Bloomberg on Thursday that she would enter the contest when nominations open after the election.

“I’ve thought very carefully about who should replace Tom and after giving it some thought I will be throwing my hat in the ring," she said.

She added that she had a “track record of being very supportive to our leader Jeremy Corbyn”.

The comments come hours after John McDonnell signalled his support for a female deputy leader, telling an audience in Liverpool: "I am always in favour of gender balance."

St. Helens North MP Conor McGinn is also thought to be considering a run to be deputy leader.

He told PoliticsHome: "My focus is on being re-elected as the MP for St Helens North - the place I live, where my children go to school and which I’m so privileged to represent in Parliament.

"I also want to see all my Labour colleagues in Merseyside and the north west returned to Westminster, hopefully alongside several new MPs to help us form a Labour Government.” 

"There is a conversation after the election about the future of the Labour Party and I want to be part of that."

Mr Watson's resignation came weeks after supporters of Mr Corbyn failed in an attempt to abolish the post of deputy leader as a way of ousting him.

In a letter to the Labour leader, the West Bromwich East MP said while he was standing down as an MP, he would not "be leaving politics altogether".

He said: "I will be taking an active part in this election campaign. I will continue as deputy leader until 12 December and will do everything I can to return a team of Labour MPs who will transform our country.

"I still believe with my whole heart what I believed when I joined on my 15th birthday in 1982: that the Labour party is the most powerful vehicle for social change this country has ever produced. I will never stop fighting for it."

In response, Mr Corbyn lsaid: "Few people have given as much to the Labour movement as you have and I know that many thousands of members and trade unionists that you have inspired and worked with over the years will be very sorry to see you go."

He added: "I am proud and glad to have worked with you over these four years and I know this is not the end of our work together."

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