TOM Watson has announced that he is stepping down as deputy leader of the Labour Party.

In a shock announcement Mr Watson, who grew up in Worcestershire, also said that he would not be seeking re-election as an MP in the forthcoming general election.

In a letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the former King Charles I High School pupil said that the time had come to “start a different kind of life”.

“The decision is personal, not political,” he said.

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“The last few years have been among the most transformational of my personal life, second only to becoming a proud father of two beautiful children.

“I’ve become healthy for the first time and I intend to continue with this work in the years to come.

“I’m as committed to Labour as ever. I will spend this election fighting for brilliant Labour candidates and a better future for our country.”

Mr Watson, who had been West Bromwich East MP, publicly clashed with Mr Corbyn on a number of occasions and had been pushing for Labour to back staying in the EU in any future referendum.

The party’s conference in Brighton in September was overshadowed by a botched bid to abolish his post.