Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has said the party must restore “pluralism and tolerance” or risk the biggest schism in its history.
Addressing a meeting organised by the new social democratic group he has set up within Labour, Mr Watson said the last few weeks had been difficult and upsetting.
He compared The Future Britain Group to efforts made by Jeremy Corbyn to keep “his traditions” alive during the New Labour years, and added that Mr Corbyn understood the need for democratic socialists to do the same.
- Read more: Antisemitism a 'genuine political crisis' for Labour
- Read more: Commission findings are ‘a damning indictment of Labour’
Mr Watson said: "The departure of good people, in particular friends like Luciana and Ian Austin, was for me a personal wake-up call to step up and do more.
"I really fear that unless we restore pluralism and tolerance to this party, it will be irreparably damaged and we will see a schism bigger than any we have experienced in our long history.
"This party is made of many elements and we've only ever worked and been elected to government when the pluralism of our different traditions has been respected."
Watson 'setting himself up as potential candidate'
Tom Watson tweeted that The Future Britain Group was the "vehicle" to avert a Labour split.
Mr Watson denied that The Future Britain Group was a challenge the Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
He added: "I know that the last thing the party needs is another faction and this group is certainly not one.
"This meeting is intended to pull the Parliamentary Labour Party together at a time when our country needs a united Labour Party with all shades of red represented."
However, speaking to talkRADIO’s Mike Graham, Labour MP Kate Hoey dismissed Mr Watson’s claims.
Ms Hoey said: “I think Tom is clearly trying to set himself up as a potential candidate if anything happens to Jeremy Corbyn.”