Former Labour deputy warns Rebecca Long-Bailey is not a vote winner

Tom Watson appears on Sky News to talk about the Labour leadership contest. Photograph: Sky.

Tom Watson appears on Sky News to talk about the Labour leadership contest. Photograph: Sky. - Credit: Archant

Former deputy leader of Labour Tom Watson has said he fears Rebecca Long-Bailey could maintain the course which led to two election defeats for the party if she is elected leader.

Watson, who stood down as an MP at the general election, claimed the shadow business secretary is the "continuity candidate" following the agenda set by Jeremy Corbyn.

He has frequently found himself at odds with Corbyn and his allies and warned Labour members against the prospect of choosing another leader from the party's left wing.

"The one that I worry about - but I don't know what she stands for - I mean, when I look at Rebecca Long-Bailey, she's really the continuity candidate," he told Kay Burley at Breakfast on Sky News.

"She sort of stands for Corbynism in its purest sense and that's perfectly legitimate but we have lost two elections with that play.

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"But she hasn't said anything yet; as far as I know she has not formally announced and it might be that she chimes a different note in her opening bid and that she wants to take the party in a different direction and she's very candid about what went wrong."

Long-Bailey is yet to formally declare that she is running for the leadership.

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Today's meeting of the NEC will consider factors that could potentially affect the outcome of the leadership election, such as the "freeze date" for eligibility to vote for those signing up and the cost of becoming a registered supporter - non-party members who can vote in the race.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner is MP expected to launch her candidacy for deputy leader - and will support her friend Long-Bailey for leader.

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