WATCH: Unite boss Len McCluskey claims Alastair Campbell deliberately got himself expelled from Labour
Len McCluskey has accused Labour's former communications chief Alastair Campbell of deliberately getting himself expelled from the party to "create a controversy".
The Unite boss said Tony Blair's former spin doctor was a "consummate politician" who had intentionally revealed he voted for the Liberal Democrats at the European elections to spark a row.
The expulsion of Mr Campbell - a prominent campaigner for a second referendum - has already triggered a bitter row in Labour's ranks.
The party's deputy leader Tom Watson on Wednesday branded the move "spiteful" and warned Labour chiefs: "The politics of intolerance holds no future for the Labour party."
But Mr McCluskey, who is a longstanding ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, told ITV's Robert Peston he was "absolutely certain" the row had been engineered.
"Alastair knew exactly what he was doing," the Unite general secretary told the show. "He knows that there’s an auto-exclusion policy within the Labour party rules. He did it to create a controversy."
Challenged on whether that claim was true, he continued: "I’m absolutely certain it is.
"He’s a consummate politician, he knew exactly what he was doing, he knew about auto-exclusion, and there’s a process, I’m sure that if he appeals I’m sure it will be dealt with in the manner that it’s supposed to."
But Mr Campbell hit back at Mr McCluskey on Twitter, insisting he had merely been answering a question honestly.
The row came amid ongoing confusion over Labour's policy on a second EU referendum following the party's poor performance in the European elections, when it lost 10 MEPs and came third behind the Lib Dems.
A Labour party spokesperson said on Tuesday: "Support for another political party or candidate is incompatible with party membership.
“The Lib Dems cannot and will not end austerity. They cannot bring our country together or be trusted to deliver on their promises. They propped up the Tories for five years and imposed austerity that has devastated our communities.
"Labour will do things very differently, and ensure our society is run for the benefit of the many, not just a privileged few."
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