Lord Mandleson says Tom Watson was plot ringleader

Lord Mandelson has attacked arch-Brownite and West Midlands MP Tom Watson for his involvement in the plot to oust former prime minister Tony Blair from power early, in his memoirs.

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Tom Watson

Lord Mandelson has attacked arch-Brownite and West Midlands MP Tom Watson for his involvement in the plot to oust former prime minister Tony Blair from power early, in his memoirs.

Mr Watson, one of Gordon Brown's closest allies, was the "ringleader" of "Team Brown", according to Lord Mandelson in his book The Third Man.

He claimed the West Bromwich East MP was acting under orders from Mr Brown when he led a rebellion against Mr Blair in September 2006.

Mr Watson was one of 15 Labour MPs that signed a letter demanding Mr Blair's resignation. Lord Mandelson alleged Mr Watson owed his promotion as junior defence minister in

Mr Blair's ministerial team to Mr Brown.

Mr Brown, then Chancellor, met Mr Watson at his home in Scotland just a day before the plotters' letter was delivered to Downing Street. Mr Watson said the purpose of the brief visit was to allow his wife Siobhan to deliver a present to baby Fraser Brown.

But he was also at the centre of allegations at the time that he and fellow conspirators, including former Erdington MP Sion Simon, met at Wolverhampton's Bilash Indian restaurant to plot Mr Blair's downfall over a balti.

Lord Mandelson said in his book: "Gordon was ready to move. The claim that he knew nothing in advance of the backbench plot over the week that followed is frankly incredible: the ringleader, Tom Watson, one of Gord-on's closest allies, would not in those days have blown his nose without Gordon's say-so."

Mr Watson today rubbished the claims and said he would set the record straight in his own memoirs. He told the Express & Star: "One day I will find the time to recount my own experience. Right now I am trying to save the Building Schools for the Future investment for Sandwell. Needless to say, I have a very different account of events than Peter does."