'Labour’s civil war over antisemitism allegations has deepened after close Corbyn ally Diane Abbott retweeted a call from a senior party official for deputy leader Tom Watson to consider his position.
The party’s chair of disputes, Claudia Webbe – a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee – said Mr Watson’s public criticism of general secretary Jennie Formby while she was having cancer treatment was “not behaviour befitting of the office of deputy leader”.
Her message was one of a series of posts attacking Mr Watson.
Ms Abbott retweeted one of the posts but later attempted to distance herself from the call for his resignation, pointing out that her Twitter profile states that “retweeting does not mean agreement”. Her spokesperson added: “Diane does think it’s wrong to attack Jennie Formby, but she’s certainly not calling for Tom Watson to resign. Her own tweets set out her position.”
Mr Watson sparked anger among the party’s highest ranks by releasing a letter in which he raised concerns about the party’s “unacceptable” treatment of employees who had spoken out about antisemitism and called on Ms Formby to publish Labour’s response to an Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “It goes beyond my understanding that he does so when he knows she’s undergoing chemotherapy”. Shadow justice secretary Richard Burton said Ms Formby “deserves better than unfair attacks”.
The message retweeted by Ms Abbott read: “@tomwatson, your engaged in public attacks on the Labour Party’s General Secretary @JennieGenSec despite your clear knowledge she is receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer. This is not behaviour befitting of the Office of Deputy Leader. You should consider your position?”'
Read more: Labour civil war deepens as Diane Abbott joins call for deputy leader Tom Watson to consider his position
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