POLITICS
07/11/2019 14:06 GMT | Updated 08/11/2019 09:37 GMT

Dawn Butler Announces She Will Run For Labour Deputy Leader

The race to replace Tom Watson is already underway.

Dawn Butler, the shadow women and equalities minister, has revealed she will run to replace Tom Watson as deputy leader of the Labour Party.

Watson, who frequently clashed with Jeremy Corbyn, made the surprise announcement on Wednesday evening he would step down as an MP at the general election.

The position of deputy is elected by party members and the race to succeed him is already underway.

Speaking to Bloomberg TV on Thursday, Butler said: “I’ve thought very carefully about who should replace Tom and after giving it some thought I will be throwing my hat in the ring.”

The MP for Brent Central said she had a “track record of being very supportive to our leader Jeremy Corbyn”.

Other candidates seen as likely to run include Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner and Shadow Employment Rights Secretary Laura Pidcock.

It is understood some candidates will wait until after the election result before making a decision. 

PA Wire/PA Images
Shadow Women & Equalities Secretary Dawn Butler speaks during a post-Queen's Speech rally in Westminster, London.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, was asked this morning if he believed Watson’s replacement should be a woman. “I am always in favour of gender balance,” he said.

Watson described quitting deputy leader and turning down the chance to run as a candidate in the general election as a “very difficult decision”.

Since joining the party on his 15th birthday in 1982, Watson has moved from a being student campaigner to being a thorn in the side of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

In September he narrowly saw off an attempt by allies of Corbyn to oust him from his deputy post.

In announcing his decision as election campaigning officially got into full swing, Watson said that now is the time for “a different kind of life” and  the “decision is personal, not political”.