EXCL Tom Watson no longer being invited to key Labour Brexit meetings

Posted On: 
19th February 2019

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson is no longer being invited to attend the committee set up to decide the party's Brexit policy.

Tom Watson has called for Labour to change the way it is run.
PA Images

In a further sign of the tensions at the top of the party, PoliticsHome has learned that Mr Watson has been shut out of recent meetings of the Shadow Cabinet Brexit sub-committee.

Among those who attend the high-powered gatherings are Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner.

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As deputy leader of the party, Mr Watson is also supposed to attend but it is understood he has not been invited to one since February last year.

Three senior Labour sources - including one member of the sub-committee - confirmed to this website that it was meeting on Tuesday afternoon in Mr Corbyn's office, although once again Mr Watson was not among those invited.

A Labour spokesperson denied that it was a formal meeting of the group, but could not explain why those attending believed it was.

Mr Watson told PoliticsHome: "It's news to me that this committee has been meeting."

Splits between Labour's deputy leader and Mr Corbyn have grown in recent months, particularly over the party's failure to tackle anti-semitism by some members.

Following the resignation of seven Labour MPs on Monday, Mr Watson said that unless Labour changed the way it is run "we may see more days like this"

He also called on the Labour leader to promote more moderate MPs to the frontbench to broaden the party's appeal.

Mr Watson was backed by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who said: "I think we are finding a way forward but it’s got to be on the basis of taking the advice of people like Tom Watson and the Parliamentary Labour Party and others."

But Mr Corbyn struck a less emollient tone, pointing out that the seven rebels had been elected on a Labour manifesto at the last election.

He said: "I hope they realise they were elected to Parliament on a manifesto that was based around investment in the future; that was based around a more equal and fairer society; that was based around social justice – and it is that programme that we are going to put to the electorate in the future, that does have enormous support.

"They were elected to carry out those policies. They decided to go somewhere else."