Len McCluskey denies any involvement in botched attempt to unseat Tom Watson
Unite leader Len McCluskey has dismissed claims that he was involved in attempting to oust Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson as “fake news”.
The union boss was believed to be among allies of Jeremy Corbyn behind a bid to abolish the top job, due to Mr Watson’s “disloyalty” over Brexit.
Momentum chief Jon Lansman tabled the emergency motion at Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee on Friday, but the efforts have since been quashed by the Labour leader who announced a “review” of the role.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, Mr McCluskey denied being part of the controversial move.
“This is just another fake news, I had nothing to do with it, I knew nothing about it,” he said.
“The first I heard about it was when it broke in the media…this is fake news because obviously the media are looking for a story.”
Mr McCluskey said he was “ambivalent” about the deputy leadership post, and was focused on helping the Labour leader become the Prime Minister
He went on: “It’s gone it’s dealt with, in some ways it’s a good thing, because it demonstrated Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. He stepped in, he calmed it all down, and it’s yesterday’s news.”
And on how the move came about, he added: “Basically what it is, is just frustration because the deputy leader in any organisation, the prime role, is to assist the leader and unfortunately Tom gives the impression, every time he speaks, is to undermine the leader."
“Now that frustration amongst members will manifest itself and I think that’s all that happened.”
Mr Watson had condemned the attack on him as a “drive-by shooting” and likened the bid to the “kind of thing that happens in Venezuela”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Mr Corbyn said he was unaware that motion was going to be put forward, but that it was “no secret” discussions were ongoing about the role of deputy leader.
He told the show: “I knew there were discussions going on about the role of deputy leader, I did not know that that particular motion was going to be put at that time…
“There was a move that didn’t happen, didn’t work and I intervened to make sure we have an open and democratic discussion about the structure of our party, and that’s where we are at.”