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West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson will follow Jacqui Smith out of the Cabinet in the forthcoming reshuffle - but unlike the Home Secretary, his departure will be a matter of genuine choice.

Watson’s role as government minister gives him a position of unrivalled access to the PM, and he is one of Gordon Brown’s most trusted advisors.

So why walk away from the centre of power? Simple. Watson is a family man, with two young children, and recently took a fearful beasting from the newspapers for his alleged role in the so-called “Smeargate” affair.

Members of Her Majesty’s press were so desperate to dish the dirt on him that they resorted to rifling through the neighbours’ rubbish bins at his Wednesbury home.

Watson successfully sued the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail over their claims that he was cc’d into emails revealing details of the Red Rag blog, aimed at spreading scurrilous stories about top Tories.

Despite that victory, the sheer hassle of it all started to weigh heavy.

Remember, Watson had been through all this once before in 2006, when he was at the centre of the alleged “Curry House Plot” to bring down Tony Blair.

That cost him his ministerial role and no one should underestimate the effort made to win it back.

Now, though, he and his clan have decided it’s not worth the grief – hence the return to the backbenches.

See also Jacqui Smith quits as Home Sec



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