/Labour deputy leader Tom Watson to step down

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson to step down

Tom Watson announced tonight he will step down as an MP | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

Watson frequently clashed with Jeremy Corbyn.

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11/6/19, 9:28 PM CET

Updated 11/6/19, 9:45 PM CET

LONDON — Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson announced tonight he will step down as an MP at the U.K.’s election, after 35 years in politics.

He wrote to Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn saying the decision was “personal, not political” and that he wanted to “start a different kind of life.”

Watson said he would devote himself to writing about public health issues including obesity and diabetes. “I might be standing down as an MP but won’t be leaving politics altogether,” he wrote. He said he would play an active part in the election campaign.

Corbyn responded thanking Watson for his service. “I respect your conclusion that it is in the best interests of you and your family that you stand down,” he wrote. “I know this is not the end of our work together.”

Watson and Corbyn were frequently at loggerheads, and earlier this year the deputy leader set up a group of centre-left Labour MPs who felt excluded from the party’s policymaking.

Activists unsuccessfully attempted to oust Watson on the first day of the Labour party conference in Brighton in September. His constituency of West Bromwich East is a key target for the Conservatives.

The deputy leader is elected directly by Labour members.

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