Woe Jeremy Corbyn: 100 MPs could join Tom Watson’s army

Woe Jeremy Corbyn: 100 MPs could join Tom Watson’s army as the Labour deputy leader goes on manoeuvres

  • Sources close to Tom Watson claim he is launching a new Labour movement
  • His operation will create a centre-left ‘party within a party’ undermining Corbyn
  • If successful, Corbyn might have as few as 145 MPs who are loyal to him 
  • As deputy leader, Watson cannot be removed by Corbyn or his allies  

Up to 100 Labour MPs are poised to join a new rebel movement under deputy leader Tom Watson

Up to 100 Labour MPs are poised to form a new rebel movement under deputy leader Tom Watson, his allies have claimed.

Mr Watson is said to be planning a guerrilla operation to establish a centre-Left ‘party within a party’ with its own whipping operation that could cripple Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, leaving just 145 MPs under his control.

He has long been planning the move, but it has been accelerated by the civil war which has broken out over anti-Semitism, and is now expected to come in the next fortnight.

Mr Watson, a veteran party power-broker and union fixer, claims he has an independent mandate because he was elected deputy leader by the membership.

And he caused fury in Mr Corbyn’s team last week by pledging to personally ‘log and monitor’ complaints about anti-Semitism and abuse within the party.

Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby wrote to Mr Watson, copying in all Labour MPs and Lords, to rebuke him for trying to interfere, saying: ‘It is absolutely inappropriate for you to set up a vague parallel complaints monitoring system’.

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An ally of Mr Watson said: ‘There is a lot of support for Tom, including several senior figures on the front bench. There is a real sense of momentum now’. But pro-Corbyn MPs say they are sceptical about the claims. ‘Tom is trying to talk this into happening,’ one said. ‘There is a lot more resistance than he is admitting.’

It is understood that relations between Mr Watson and Mr Corbyn have ‘effectively broken down’ although the deputy leader still talks to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

However there are also tensions between Watson’s ‘social democrats’ and the new Independent Group, containing eight former Labour MPs. Mr Watson was furious that the MPs had not informed him of their plans to leave in advance.

‘Tom has always told people thinking of quitting that it is better to all go en masse rather than piecemeal,’ said the ally.

Watson has been highly critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the anti-Semitism crisis 

In his response to Ms Formby, one of Mr Corbyn’s closest allies, Mr Watson said he had no intention of backing down. He said: ‘It is my responsibility to ensure people have confidence in our complaints system and our ability to deal transparently with the scourge of anti-Semitism. I will continue to do everything I can to achieve that.’

In an attempt to defuse Mr Watson’s initiative, Labour peer Lord Falconer, a former flatmate of Tony Blair, has been asked to ‘scrutinise’ the party’s disciplinary procedures.

Ms Formby said she was ‘delighted’ that Falconer had agreed to take the role – but the peer said yesterday he would do it only if agreement could be reached on his terms.

Man who never apologised for taking cash from Max Mosley

Tom Watson received £500,000 in donations from the former boss of Formula One’s governing body Max Mosley

Tom Watson’s bid to seize the moral high ground from Jeremy Corbyn will be hampered by his fateful decision to take ‘contaminated’ money from disgraced racing tycoon Max Mosley, critics say.

The Labour deputy leader has been challenged by ardent Corbynistas to return £500,000 in donations to the party which came from the privacy campaigner and former boss of Formula One’s governing body.

But Mr Watson, who doubles as the party’s culture, media and sport spokesman, has so far refused.

A year ago, Corbyn right-hand man John McDonnell asked him to consider sending the cash back after the discovery of a 1960s leaflet linking immigrants with disease which listed Mr Mosley as its publisher.

Mr Watson’s office responded by saying the party would take no further donations from Mr Mosley, son of British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, but insisted the tycoon no longer held such views.

However, former Labour MP David Winnick branded the inherited cash ‘contaminated’, saying it was the same money Oswald Mosley used for his ‘fascist work’.

Mr Watson also came under fire after claiming in 2012 that there was a ‘powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10’.

Police investigated the claims and found no evidence of any such network.

In 2015, Mr Watson was forced to apologise to Lord Brittan’s widow Diana for causing distress after he described the late Conservative Home Secretary as being ‘as close to evil as any human could get’ after he died. There had been claims the peer was a paedophile – which were later shown to be false.

Mosley is the son of the leader of the British Union of Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley, pictured


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