Tom Watson: There's 'a battle for the future existence of the Labour party'

Tom WatsonBen Pruchnie/Getty ImagesDeputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson delivers the closing speech to delegates on the final day of The Labour Party Autumn Conference on September 30, 2015 in Brighton, England. On the fourth and final day of the annual Labour Party Conference, delegates will debate and vote on an emergency motion detailing strict conditions for the support of military action in Syria, as well as attending talks on healthcare and education from Labour politicians.

LONDON — Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has warned of a “hard-left plan” to take control of the party after leader Jeremy Corbyn’s departure.

Watson spoke out on Sunday after Jon Lansman, who leads pro-Corbyn movement Momentum, was secretly recorded detailing plans to consolidate the group’s power within the party.

The plans, described by Watson as “entryism,” include a formal affiliation between Momentum and Unite, Britain’s largest union, which critics fear would mean a big transfer of financial and political power to the pro-Corbyn left.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Monday morning, Watson said: “I regard this as a battle for the future existence of the Labour party. This is high stakes, and I hope my fellow members are going to understand that — and our leader.”

He added: “I’m afraid there are some people who do not have our electoral interests at their heart, and that’s why I’m speaking out now.”

“We’ve never seen the biggest [British] union organising a political faction within the Labour party with the tacit approval of the leadership. That’s never happened.”

“I think it’s vital that ordinary members of Unite are made aware of this plan, that they know what’s going on and they take action to block it.”

Momentum launched a formal bid to affiliate with the Labour party in January, and warned its members that they will be expelled unless they join the Labour party by July.

On Sunday, the group insisted it had no plans to affilliate with Unite and said it had not received any funds from them.

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