Wed, 17 April 2024

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The House Live All
By Bishop of Leeds
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John McDonnell: Jeremy Corbyn will tell the Queen Labour is taking over if Boris Johnson loses confidence vote

3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn would tell the Queen Labour is "taking over" if Boris Johnson lost a vote of no confidence, John McDonnell has said.

The Shadow Chancellor said the Labour leader would be heading to Buckingham Palace "in a taxi" to ask to form a government if Mr Johnson is defeated in the Commons.

“I don’t want to drag the Queen into this but I would be sending Jeremy Corbyn in a cab to Buckingham Palace to say we’re taking over," he told an audience at the Edinburgh festival.

The comments came as Mr McDonnell again rejected calls for Labour to join a government of national unity in the event of a no confidence vote - and said the Prime Minister's top adviser Dominic Cummings was "wrong" to suggest Mr Johnson could stay in office after losing one.

Jeremy Corbyn this week said Labour would call a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson's government at an "appropriate very early time" following the summer recess.

Spelling out Labour's plans if such a vote proved successful, Mr McDonnell said: "We then have two weeks in which the existing Prime Minister or anybody else can determine whether they can secure a majority in Parliament for a government.

"That’s when we’ll be saying Labour can form a majority government and we expect others to come behind us to do that, so it becomes a caretaker government. And part of that will be to say: yes, we will block a no deal and go back to the country in a referendum.

"So that’s the choice that other parties and other MPs will have. Will they support Labour going into government under Jeremy Corbyn to prevent a no deal? I think there will be a majority government."

The Shadow Chancellor also made clear that the party would press to hold another vote of no confidence to try and "force a general election" if Mr Johnson refused to step down and no Labour-led government could be formed in the 14-day period following the first one.

"Then if necessary there’s a second no-confidence motion if we have to use it," he said.

"[Dominic] Cummings got it wrong, and other commentators have made it clear, actually that second no-confidence motion will be the one which if necessary we will use to force a general election." 

And, in a direct warning to Mr Johnson, he said: "No Prime Minister can sustain themselves in office when they no longer have a majority in the House of Commons."

Mr McDonnell's comments come after both he and Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey rejected talk of Labour joining a government of national unity aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit.

The proposal has been talked up by key Remain-backing figures, including former attorney general Dominic Grieve, in recent days.

But Ms Long-Bailey said: "What we don’t want is a national unity government that gives Boris some sort of get out of jail free card, so as soon as Brexit’s been sorted out, he can sail back in without any problems at all, without a sufficient Parliamentary majority. That simply wouldn’t be right."

Mr McDonnell meanwhile insisted that any administration formed if Mr Johnson is defeated "would be a Labour government" because the party "wouldn’t enter into coalitions or pacts".

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