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Jeremy Corbyn urges other parties to back him in 'time-limited' caretaker government to stop no-deal Brexit

4 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has urged fellow opposition party leaders and senior backbenchers to support him in a "time-limited" government to help block a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader said the plan would allow him to extend Article 50 to avoid a "deeply damaging" no-deal as he promised to use a short spell in governemnt to trigger a fresh general election in which his party would support a second EU referendum.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to rule out either suspending Parliament or calling a snap general election in a bid to stop MPs hoping to thwart his pledge to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal on 31 Octoebr.

But in a letter to the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, SNP and the Green Party, Mr Corbyn said he would use their support to call a vote of no-confidence at the "earliest opportunity".

Senior backbench MPs, including influential Tory rebels Dominic Grieve and Oliver Letwin, have also been invited to talks, which the Labour leader said would help "end the uncertainty and disarray and all the public to decide the best way ahead for our country".

Mr Corbyn said: "While it is likely that the issue will be contested in the courts, our priority should be to work together in Parliament to prevent a deeply damaging No Deal being imposed on the country, denying voters the final say.

"This government has no mandate for No Deal, and the 2016 EU referendum provided no mandate for No Deal. I therefore intend to table a vote of no confidence at the earliest opportunity when we can be confident of success."

Earlier this month Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he would put Mr Corbyn "in a taxi" to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to form a minority government if Mr Johnson refused to step aside after losing a vote of no confidence.

Going a step further, Mr Corbyn urged the cross-party group to back him in a "strictly time-limited" caretaker administration, which would extend Article 50 and call a general election.

"Following a successful vote of no confidence in the government, I would then, as Leader of the Opposition, seek the confidence of the House for a strictly time-limited temporary government with the aim of calling a general election, and securing the necessary extension of Article 50 to do so," he said.

"In that general election, Labour will be committed to a public vote on the terms of leaving the European Union, including an option to Remain."


The Labour leader also shared a letter he had received from the UK's top civil servant vowing to ensure the "full and proper application" of rules aimed at preventing ministers from making major announcements in the run-up to any election.

Mr Corbyn had sought assurances that Mr Johnson cannot force through a no-deal Brexit in the middle of a general election campaign.

Writing back to Mr Corbyn, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill pointed to rules on the pre-election period - known as 'purdah' - which are contained in the Cabinet Manual, a guidebook to the UK's system of government drawn up in 2011.

Sir Mark said: "Let me reassure you that I am ready to ensure their full and proper application according to the circumstances at the time. 

"The timing of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union is a matter for the European Council under A50 [Article 50] of the Lisbon Treaty and Parliament under the terms of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018."


Mr Corbyn's plea follows a commitment from Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson to ditch "tribalism" in order to block a no-deal exit.

Speaking at an event this week with deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, she said there was a "desire across the political spectrum to stop Boris Johnson's reckless no-deal Brexit plan and instead deliver a brighter future inside the EU".

The move came as Mr Johnson accused MPs who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit of working with the EU in an attempt to halt Brexit, and claimed that their plans - rather than the Governemnt's own position - had made a no-deal more likely.

“There’s a terrible kind of collaboration, as it were, going on between people who think they can block Brexit in Parliament and our European friends," he said.

“And our European friends are…not compromising at all on the Withdrawal Agreement, even though is has been thrown out three times.

“They are sticking with every letter, every comma of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, because they still think that Brexit can be blocked in Parliament.

“And so the awful thing is the longer that goes on the more likely it is of course that we will be forced to leave with a no-deal Brexit.”

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