Labour Brexit rebels should be back in top positions within months - Watson
Labour frontbenchers who quit in a row over the party's approach to Brexit should be back in top positions "within months", Tom Watson has said.
The deputy leader said the party must take a sensible approach to dealing with the deep divisions among MPs over triggering Article 50.
At a conference in central London, Mr Watson said Britain must be open-minded about US president Donald Trump's economic policies.
And he said he hopes Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet the new American leader when he travels to the UK for a state visit later this year.
Mr Watson said Jo Stevens, who quit as shadow Welsh secretary, had a "very great role to play" in the future of the party.
He told Sky News: "I hope that those colleagues who feel they need to leave the front bench because they feel strongly that they have to represent the interests of their voters don't feel that this is the end.
"I hope that Jo Stevens will be back on the frontbenches in the months and years ahead."
Mr Watson said that even though Labour had opposed Brexit, it is backing the legislation to start the Article 50 process because it is a party of democrats.
Asked about the sanctions that rebels in lower ranking positions could face, he replied: "We are going to deal with this sensitively. Jeremy and our chief whip will be dealing with all those matters of discipline.
"But, let me just be very clear, I understand this is very unique circumstances and we are going to deal with this issue very sensitively."
Mr Watson said the UK should respond to US president Donald Trump's "buy American" mantra with its own "buy British" policy.
In a speech to the Co-operative Party Economic Conference in London, he said B rexit will free up the Government to favour British goods.
The deputy leader highlighted how the international trading agreements Mr Trump is ripping up have also been opposed by unions because they stop countries from protecting workers.
Attacking the "chattering classes" for their "sneering derision" over calls to buy British, he insisted significant opportunities to boost business will be opened up when the country is no longer bound by European Union red tape.
Mr Watson said later that he wanted the new president to take up the offer made to take him to a British mosque to show him the UK's "multi-faith, multi-cultural society".
"I very much hope that Donald Trump will meet Jeremy. Jeremy has offered to invite him to a mosque in his constituency and I hope he can do that," he told Sky.
Mr Watson told activists that technological advances meant that Mr Trump's plan to return manufacturing to America could end up with many jobs being done by robots rather than people.
Technology is being use to "wring the very last drop of productivity out of workers" and those in the sector must be protected by unions, he told the conference.
"We should be working towards a bright future. Instead we're burrowing back to the basest bits of the past - but with a dystopian, cyberpunk twist."