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Tom Watson says former party boss John Smith 'would want second referendum'

LABOUR deputy leader Tom Watson will today claim that legendary party boss John Smith would have fought for a second referendum.

In a bid to turn up the heat on Jeremy Corbyn to promise a fresh nationwide vote, his No2 will also say Smith thought being anti-EU was “wrong-headed”.

Mr Watson will make the claims in a speech to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1990s leader’s death.

He will tell the Fabian Society: “If John was alive today, to witness the great damage this process is wreaking on country and our public debate, I have no doubt that he would have backed a people’s vote as a way out of this destructive mess”.

Mr Watson will also mount a blatant attack on the pro-Brexit hard left Labour leader, who has voted against the EU through his 30 years as an MP.

He will claim that Mr Smith saw “anti-EU sentiment, whether of the right-wing independent trading nation variety, or the left-wing ‘Socialism in one country’ variety, as equally wrong-headed”.

Moderniser John Smith died from a heart attack in May 1994, while being odds on to be Prime Minister.

Many activists dub him “the best Labour PM we never had”.

Mr Watson will add: “John exemplified the difference between patriotism and nationalism.

“He was proud to be Scottish, but never fell into divisive, narrow nationalism. He wanted devolution but never separation.”

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