On the eve of Labour’s last annual in-person conference in 2019, a monumental row erupted, threatening to plunge the party into a “civil war”. An audacious attempt was made by some on the left to abolish the position of deputy leader, which at the time was held by Tom Watson, who often spoke publicly against Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy.
After a considerable backlash – Ed Miliband decried the move as “undemocratic” and “wrong” – and with the prospect of a general election looming, the Labour leader quashed the motion, and instead suggested the role of deputy leader should be reviewed.
While the post was not in the end abolished, the argument overshadowed the initial days of the conference, with some urging the party to take the fight, instead, to Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.
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