Mon, 22 July 2024

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The House Live All
By Ben Guerin
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Lib Dems reject Jeremy Corbyn's call to make him PM to block no-deal Brexit

4 min read

Opposition parties have given a mixed reaction to Jeremy Corbyn's call for them to back him as head of a "time-limited" government aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader threw down the gauntlet to the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Greens as he urged them to back a no confidence motion in Boris Johnson and then support a short-lived Labour-led government that would extend Article 50 and trigger a fresh general election.

In a cross-party letter to key figures in each party, Mr Corbyn promised that he would then take Labour into an election "committed to a public vote on the terms of leaving the European Union, including an option to Remain".

But the call was given a frosty reception by the other opposition parties, who either snubbed the offer or called on Mr Corbyn to go further in his commitment to halting no-deal.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, who is due to give her own Brexit speech on Thursday, appeared to reject the gambit outright.

She said: "Jeremy Corbyn is not the person who is going to be able to build an even temporary majority in the House of Commons for this task – I would expect there are people in his own party and indeed the necessary Conservative backbenchers who would be unwilling to support him. It is a nonsense."

Ms Swinson added: "This letter is just more red lines that are about him and his position and is not a serious attempt to find the right solution and build a consensus to stop a no-deal Brexit.
"I am committed to working in a credible way with those in other parties, and none, across Parliament to stop a no-deal Brexit and will set out how that could work in my speech tomorrow."

Meanwhile the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he had already written to Mr Corbyn "a fortnight ago requesting cross-party talks in order to stop a catastrophic no-deal Brexit".

And he added: “I am pleased to receive his letter today confirming that Labour will now work with the SNP and others collaboratively to stop the UK government - but this means Labour needs to get off the fence on Brexit.

“I will be pleased to meet with the Labour leader and others at the earliest opportunity to work together. I can also confirm that the SNP stands ready to bring down this Tory government should Labour table a Vote of No Confidence motion.

“The SNP will vote against this Prime Minister and his government when the opportunity arises.

“However, as detailed in my previous letter, we face an urgent threat of a no-deal Brexit with the clock ticking down to the 31st October. 

"Therefore we must act immediately and collectively to stop the Prime Minister from dragging us out of the European Union without a deal. 

"That means working together to find cast iron solutions. We need to explore how Parliament can take back control and use all means at our disposal to protect citizens from a damaging no-deal Brexit."


Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said she "absolutely" backed Mr Corbyn's call for a vote of no-confidence in Mr Johnson, which Labour has promised to call soon after Parliament returns from its summer recess. 

But the prominent supporter of the so-called 'People's Vote' campaign for a second Brexit referendum called on the Labour leader to do more to secure a fresh public vote.

The Brighton Pavilion MP said: "Preventing a crash-out Brexit on the 31st October was what lay behind my proposal earlier this week.

"But the proposal from the Labour leader does not guarantee that the people are given the final say on Brexit.

"Holding a general election before a People's Vote is the wrong way around."

She added: "I would back a vote of no-confidence if Jeremy Corbyn calls it, but what I ask him to do is to guarantee that if he fails to win the confidence of the House, even for a time-limited temporary Government, that he would commit to supporting an MP who can do that, then deliver the crucial letter to the EU asking for an extension of Article 50, then a People's Vote.

"After that is the time to hold an election, when voters can make the choice about their representatives to take the UK forward, dealing with the pressing issues within our country." 

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