When seven Labour MPs formally announced that they were leaving the party to form the Independent Group on 18 February, it didn't take long for deputy Labour leader Tom Watson to release a video about their departure. In his statement, Watson lamented that his colleagues had decided to leave and suggested that there should be a reshuffle of Labour's front bench, to accommodate the 'Social democratic and democratic socialist traditions' of the party.
Three weeks later, on the 9 March, Watson changed tack and announced that instead he would form a new party for social democrat MPs within Labour, called 'Future Britain Group', which had its first meeting today.
But, despite his apparent reticence to back a new party within a party until three weeks after TIG was formed, it seems that Watson may have been keener than he let on to create his new group. Mr S has spotted that on 18 February, the very day the Independent Group was launched, someone discreetly registered the website domain futurebritaingroup.co.uk:
The person behind the domain has decided to not reveal their details, but the timing of the registration (which was 19 days before Watson revealed the name of his new faction), suggests to Mr S that only the deputy leader could be behind the new website.
Mr Steerpike suspects that if Watson was planning to defy Corbyn’s leadership and form a new hostile group so soon after TIG was formed, it won’t go down well with the Corbynite faithful…