Tom Watson takes aim at 'Marmite character' Boris Johnson
Tom Watson has taken aim at the favourite for the Tory leadership contest, questioning Boris Johnson's work ethic and "attention to detail".
The deputy Labour leader said the former Foreign Secretary was a "Marmite" character and was confident his party could win the next election if Mr Johnson became Prime Minister.
The West Bromwich East MP said: "We're gearing up [for the next election].
"If it happens, and Boris Johnson wins [the leadership contest], I think he can be defeated.
"He is somewhat of a Marmite character – people either really admire him or don't respect him.
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"And over the years I've watched him, I don't think he has sufficient attention to detail that a Prime Minister requires.
"The honest truth is I'm not sure about his work ethic and so I think he could become exposed quite quickly, if we're given the chance to adequately put him under scrutiny.
"Although, of course, his handlers now seem to be hiding him from any media scrutiny – so we might not be able to achieve that at all."
Despite promises made by both candidates to deliver Brexit, Mr Watson said the next leader would "inherit" the same problems former Prime Minister Theresa May faced.
He said: "It's been an interesting discussion, a national discussion, though I don't think there was any doubt at the start of the contest that Boris would be the favourite, although, of course, they've not made a decision.
"For me, it doesn't matter who leads the Tory party – they are a divided party without a majority in parliament.
"So no matter what intentions any new leader has, they are still going to be faced with the same problems that Theresa May had.
"And the personal ambition of some of those candidates sank Theresa May, but they will inherit the same problems which she had."
It came as the deputy Labour leader reaffirmed his push for a second referendum, saying his party needed to give an "honest account" of its position.
He said: "Three years on, we just need to give an honest account of ourselves and I know people might not like that, but it's my heartfelt view that it's in the national interest that we that we push this case with urgency.
"Because I don't want to see the investment fall, and there's already jobs leaving the region and that's only going to get worse if we carry on the way we're going."