Jeremy Corbyn does not consult Tom Watson on key strategy decisions for Labour, the deputy leader revealed on Wednesday (4 January 2017). The West Bromwich MP stressed that Corbyn, who fended off Owen Smith's leadership challenge in 2016, was the "established leader" of the party.

"I am in the NEC and in the shadow cabinet, but nobody should be in any doubt it will be his manifesto," Watson said. "He will lead in developing those policies and I will support him."

The comments, part of a GQ interview with former Number 10 communications chief Alastair Campbell, come just a day after a worrying report for Corbyn from the Fabian Society.

The left-leaning think tank warned that Labour could win fewer than 150 seats at the next general election in 2020.

Andrew Harrop, the general secretary of the Fabian Society, said: "Labour needs to be the party for the millions of voters who were neither die-hard remainers nor leavers; neither Richmond Park global citizens nor Faragiste pub bores.

"In practice, that means starting with pavement politics in the suburbs and towns where Labour isn't winning, to show that the party is 'from here', not an unfamiliar somewhere else. For the time being, Labour has no realistic chance of winning an election outright.

"To win a majority of one, the party will probably need to beat the Tories by more than in 2001; such was the scale of its Scottish meltdown. So a wounded Labour party will have to get used to the idea that it will need to work alongside others."

The latest national opinion poll from YouGov for The Times, of more than 1,500 voters between 18 and 19 December, put the Conservatives on 39%, with Labour on 24% and Ukip on 14%. Corbyn's next electoral test will be the Copeland by-election, with Jamie Reed resigning from the West Cumbria seat in December and to take effect from the end of January.

Reed, a Corbyn critic, secured a majority of just more than 2,500 votes at the general election, while the Conservatives came second with over 35% of the vote.