Tom Watson said Jeremy Corbyn had the power to stop the vote from going ahead. Toby Melville-Reuters

The deputy leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, Tom Watson, said on Saturday that his stance on Brexit, where he backs a second referendum before a parliamentary election, unlike leader Jeremy Corbyn, is behind efforts by some in the party to remove him.

At a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee on Friday, Jon Lansman, the founder of the left-wing grassroots movement Momentum, proposed a motion to abolish the post of deputy leader, citing disloyalty over Brexit, according to two party officials.

The chair ruled that the motion should be thrown out and members then voted 17 to 10 to overturn that decision, just short of the two-thirds majority they needed, the officials said.

The motion was set to go back to the National Executive Committee on Saturday and, if successful, due to be debated by Labour’s annual party conference later on, according to a source close to Lansman.

Watson told BBC radio: “I just think Jon Lansman and his faction are so angry about (my position on Brexit) that, they’d rather abolish me than have a debate with me about it.”

Watson has been accused by some supporters of Corbyn of being disloyal or even trying to undermine the Labour leader on a range of issues including allegations of anti-Semitism in the party.

A Labour Party spokesman declined to comment.

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