Jeremy Corbyn’s allies were “panicked” after getting wind of the secret plan to form a Government of national unity and quickly moved to strip Remainer Mr Watson of his authority. The start of the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Saturday was marred by Momentum boss Jon Lansman’s move to try to axe Mr Watson’s post.
According the the Mail on Sunday, Mr Watson had held talks with the Lib Dems and members of Boris Johnson’s party to devise a plan on what would happen if the Government collapsed amid the Brexit crisis.
He is said to have been up for taking on a top role or even leading a caretaker Government but his spokesman dismissed the claims as “utter nonsense”.
Mr Watson compared Momentum’s plot to something that might happen in socialist Venezuela - a dig at Mr Corbyn who has defended the leadership of the embattled dictator Nicolas Maduro.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Mr Corbyn’s support of the Venezuelan leader “disgusting”.
Mr Watson had been plotting to set up a caretaker Government before the bid to oust him (Image: GETTY)
The socialist leader has clashed with Mr Watson over Brexit (Image: AFP/GETTY)
The Labour leader and Mr Watson have clashed on several issues including the party’s handling of its antisemitism crisis and Labour’s official line on Brexit, which has been unclear for many months.
Mr Watson has called for Labour to become unequivocally pro-Remain while suspected Brexiteer Mr Corbyn has given mixed messages on his EU views.
Shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler said the threat to Mr Watson’s position came as a surprise to her.
During an interview with LBC she was asked if the move might look