Jeremy Corbyn calls for two deputy leaders after bid to oust Tom Watson

Jeremy Corbyn has said he would like to see two deputy leaders of the Labour Party – hours after a bid to scrap the elected position was abandoned.

The Labour leader said one of the deputies should be a woman to reflect the “diversity within our society”.

It came after Tom Watson, who has repeatedly clashed with Mr Corbyn, claimed the civil war at the top of the party had undermined efforts to present itself as an alternative government.

An attempt to oust him by scrapping his elected position was abandoned on the first day of Labour’s conference following an intervention by the party leader.

Tom Watson
Labour party deputy leader Tom Watson (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror: “I told the national executive we need to review how the deputy leadership works and have an election process for two deputy leaders in the future which reflects diversity within our society so one would be a woman.

“It was agreed overwhelmingly.”

He added: “Tom is the elected deputy leader of the party and so has an important role to play.

“I work with him and he’s done very well on media reform, online gambling and exposing the way sugar has a deleterious affect on our lives.”

It came amid reports that one of Mr Corbyn’s closest aides has resigned, issuing a warning that the Labour leader will not win the next general election.

Andrew Fisher, head of policy and the author of the party’s last manifesto, is said to have walked out last Saturday.

The Sunday Times reported he denounced Mr Corbyn’s team for their “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency” in a memo seen by the paper.

He also said he was sick of the “blizzard of lies and excuses”, and claimed a “class war” had gripped the upper echelons of the party.

His resignation will be a significant blow to 70-year-old Mr Corbyn, who, it is claimed, may also stand down because he feels under “incredible pressure”.

A Labour source said: “We don’t comment on staffing matters.”

The plot to scrap Mr Watson’s position was spearheaded by Jon Lansman, the boss of the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group.

Mr Watson, who was met by cheering supporters as he arrived at Brighton station for the conference on Saturday afternoon, was scathing about Mr Lansman.

He said: “I think it says there are some people who don’t think clear-headedly, who risk us having a transformative government by playing sectarian games.

“I put Jon Lansman in that category and I think it’s very sad because I think he has undermined himself and the members of his organisation, many of whom have been in touch with me today and said they were not consulted when he did that and they were very disappointed with him personally.

“But that’s politics, I’ve been around a long time and I want us to reunite now.”

Mr Watson was the target of an ambush at the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) on Friday night, at which he was not present due to family commitments.

Although a surprise effort to abolish the post of deputy was ruled out of order by chair Wendy Nichols, those present voted by 17-10 in a bid to debate it anyway – just short of the two-thirds majority required under party rules.

But the motion was due to be debated on Saturday morning’s meeting of the NEC, just hours before the official start of a party conference supposed to be focused on preparing for a looming election.

After Mr Corbyn intervened with his call for a review of the deputy leadership position, the bid to abolish it was not put to a vote.

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