DEPUTY Labour leader Tom Watson resigned from his post this week in an unexpected move ahead of the December general election. Here’s who might replace him.
Tom Watson, who was elected about the same time as Jeremy Corbyn, said his decision to step down was “personal, not political”. The Labour Party leader thanked Mr Watson for his service, and said: “This is not the end of our work together.”
But despite an amicable exit, Mr Watson was often at odds with Mr Corbyn, having previously faced an attempt to oust him at the recent Labour conference.
An ardent Remainer, Mr Watson was also at odds with his own constituency, West Bromwich East, which voted 66 percent in favour of Leave at the 2016 referendum.
He has also stepped down as an MP and won’t run in the December 12 election.
In his letter to Mr Corbyn, he thanked the leader “for the decency and courtesy you have shown me over the last four years, even in difficult times”.
He added: “Our many shared interests are less well known than our political differences, but I will continue to devote myself to the things we often talk about.”
These shared goals include gambling regulation, stopping press intrusion and campaigns on public health.
He also said after the election he “won’t be leaving politics altogether” and plans to work on public health campaigns and release a book about his own struggle with type 2 diabetes.
He told the BBC he wanted to “take a leap and do something new”, but he said he would still be out campaigning for the Labour Party ahead of the snap election.
So who might replace him?
Here are the latest runners and riders. All odds courtesy of Ladbrokes
Dawn Butler – 5/1 odds
The 50-year-old Londoner was the first to go public with plans to run for the job, and is looking to position herself as the pro-Corbyn candidate.
She worked for the GMB union before becoming an adviser to Ken Livingstone, who was then the London mayor.
She said: “There are structural barriers that hold people back.
“I want to as deputy leader change all of that, change the way the country is currently developing, change the way we’re seeing hate overcome hope, change the script on all of that”
Rebecca Long-Bailey – 6/1 odds
The 40-year-old committed Corbyn-backer was a protégé of John McDonnell.
She has served as shadow business secretary since 2017 and deputised for Mr Corbyn at PMQs earlier this year.
Ms Long-Bailey has been mentioned publicly as a potential future leader, but it is said by some close to her the post of deputy leader is of more interest.
Laura Pidcock – 4/1 odds
Ms Piddock, 32, was appointed to a junior shadow role, but has been promised a cabinet-level employment if Labour wins the general election.
She was elected MP for North West Durham in 2017 and quickly became a favourite among Corbyn supporters.
She was criticised early in her parliamentary tenure for saying she had “absolutely no intention of being friends with any Tories”, calling them “the enemy”.
Emily Thornberry – 10/1 odds
The 59-year-old shadow foreign secretary was sacked from the front bench by Ed Miliband after a poor showing in a by-election and a distasteful tweet.
She returned under Mr Corbyn, but has since clashed with his allies over the party’s Brexit policy.
Sir Keir Starmer – 10/1 odds
The shadow Brexit secretary, 57, was instrumental in forcing Mr Corbyn to accept that Labour would offer a second EU referendum.
His tenure as Shadow Brexit Secretary has made him a popular member of the Labour front bench.
One July 2019 poll named him favourite to succeed Jeremy Corbyn with 68 percent approval ratings amongst the Labour Grassroots.