Labour party deputy leader Tom Watson has announced he is standing down as an MP at the next election on December 12.
In a letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn which was shared on his Twitter profile, Watson said that serving the party “had been the privilege of a lifetime”.
He added that his decision was “personal, not political.”
After 35 years in full-time politics, I've decided to step down and will be campaigning to overcome the Tory-fuelled public health crisis. I'm as committed to Labour as ever. I will spend this election fighting for brilliant Labour candidates and a better future for our country. pic.twitter.com/qGqiKTJ6br
— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) November 6, 2019
Watson, who had represented West Bromwich East since 2001, had clashed with Corbyn over the change in direction of the party since the left-winger was elected leader in 2015, most notably over Brexit.
Earlier this year there was a bid by the Corbynite left of the party to abolish Watson’s post, who had frustrated Corbyn loyalists with his criticisms of the handling of the scandal over anti-Semitism.
In his letter, Watson alludes to “the disagreements we have had inside the party are well-known; now is not the time to rehearse them again.”
But in his response to Watson on Twitter, Corbyn too played down the differences between the two Labour veterans.
Thank you @tom_watson for your service to our party and your constituents. I know you’ll continue to take on the vested interests of the Murdoch empire, big sugar companies and the gambling industry. This is not the end of our work together. pic.twitter.com/MpYLVklHdr
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 6, 2019
Corbyn’s letter was even more genial than Watson’s, referring to to their “convivial chats about about […] cycling, exercise and horticulture.”
“I hope the horseradish plants I gave you thrive,” he said.