Labour wrong to start conference by 'trying to eradicate Tom Watson' says Emily Thornberry

Posted On: 
22nd September 2019

It was wrong to start Labour conference by “trying to eradicate Tom Watson”, Emily Thornberry has declared.

Emily Thornberry criticised the attempt to remove the position of deputy leader of the Labour party
PA Images

Tom Watson says 'battle for the future of Labour' underway after failed bid to oust him

Sadiq Khan warns Jeremy Corbyn that Labour cannot be ‘neutral’ over Brexit

Len McCluskey denies any involvement in botched attempt to unseat Tom Watson

The Shadow Foreign Secretary said the annual gathering in Brighton should be about the party showing “unity of purpose”.

Ms Thornberry, who admitted she and Labour's deputy leader were "not exactly each other’s biggest fans", spoke out after Momentum moss Jon Lansman failed in a bid to scrap Mr Watson's role in the party.

Speaking at a conference fringe event, she said: “I don’t think I’m telling any secrets out of school by saying that Tom Watson and I don’t exactly see eye to eye.

“And so we’re not exactly each other’s biggest fans - sometimes you get on with people, sometimes you don’t.

“But I would have hoped this conference is one where we showed unity of purpose.”

She added: “I didn’t think it was right to launch conference in that way by trying to eradicate Tom Watson, so to speak.

“I do remember it was just a few months ago when Tom Watson was saying half of the Shadow Cabinet should be sacked.

“So this is not really the way to behave.”

The move to oust Mr Watson has since been quashed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who announced a “review” of the deputy leader's role following an angry backlash from MPs and trade unions.

Ms Thornberry also praised Andrew Fisher, Mr Corbyn’s head of policy, who shocked the party by announcing he will quit by the end of the year.

She said it was a “high-pressure job” and that “he’s a great bloke” after he said he was “choosing to prioritise” his wife and young son over the “stresses and strains” of the top party post.

Ms Thornberry said he was “very sensible, very bright”, and will be a “great loss” to the leader’s office.