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 Kidderminster, 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.

“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.”

"Serving the Labour Party has been the privilege of a lifetime. I joined in 1982 and never imagined that one day a kid from Kidderminster would be the party's deputy leader."

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.

Councillor Fran Oborski, deputy leader of Wyre Forest District Council, said on Twitter: "Really sad that my long time friend Tom Watson is standing down. A truly decent Labour guy.

"I’ve known Tom since he was seven years old when his dad was Labour Agent in Wyre Forest, my late husband Mike was Liberal Agent and Brian Binley was Conservative Agent."