Momentum is attempting to remove Tom Watson from his role as deputy leader of the Labour Party for ‘disloyalty’ over the party’s Brexit position.
At a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) Jon Lansman, the founder of left-wing group Momentum, proposed a motion to scrap the role of deputy leader.
The chair of the NEC said the motion was out of order before 17 members to 10 voted to hear it.
As it failed to meet a two-thirds majority it was not discussed but will end up on Saturday’s agenda with an expectation it will pass.
Supporters of the motion included Diane Abbott and Rebecca Long-Bailey – the only shadow cabinet members present.
Tom Watson was not present at the meeting – he had given apologies due to childcare commitments.
Lansman claimed that Tom Watson’s overall Remain position – and recent calls for a People’s Vote to take place before a general election – were reasons for removing him.
Momentum are confident that they have the votes to abolish the position.
A Momentum statement said: “No one person is more important than beating Boris Johnson, ending austerity and tackling the climate emergency. We just can’t afford to go into an election with a deputy leader set on wrecking Labour’s chances.
“Labour members overwhelmingly want a deputy leadership election, but our outdated rulebook won’t let it happen. You need 20% of Labour MPs to trigger an election, and they just won’t let the members have a fair and open election.”
The moves appeared to provoke outrage from the parliamentary Labour party.
Ex-minister Yvette Cooper tweeted: “This is completely mad and incredibly destructive. Country faces serious challenges & General Election could be imminent. @UKLabour conference shd be about country & about pulling together. Instead we get this.”
Former Cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw said the attempt to “purge” Mr Watson was “totally f***ing insane”.
Tottenham MP David Lammy said: “Tribal infighting in the middle of a Boris Johnson-inspired national emergency makes me want to weep.
“My constituents and millions of others across the country desperately need the Labour party united right now. The Tories, not Tom Watson, are our opponents. Let’s fight them.”