No-deal Brexit splits laid bare as MPs give mixed response to Jeremy Corbyn's call for 'tactics' meeting

Posted On: 
22nd August 2019

Opposition MPs have given a mixed reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s call for them to sit down and discuss “tactics” for blocking a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader has warned against the “chaos and dislocation of Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit”.
Credit: 
PA

The Labour leader – who has previously urged the other parties to back him as an interim Prime Minister to extend Article 50 and then call an election – invited a string of MPs to a meeting next week to try and halt the “chaos and dislocation of Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit”.

But the meeting will be snubbed by the former Conservative, now independent, MP Nick Boles – while Tory MP Dame Caroline Spelman replied by saying she “would not, in any circumstances” vote to bring down Boris Johnson.

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Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has already said she will “look forward” to the meeting - but has urged the Labour leader to “focus on workable options that can actually stop no-deal Brexit”.

In his own letter to Mr Corbyn, Mr Boles – a key architect of earlier Parliamentary efforts to prevent Britain leaving the EU without a deal, turned down the offer to meet the Labour leader, saying he does not believe that the opposition chief’s plans are “workable”.

“I, for one, will not support a vote of no confidence while the Johnson government continues to pursue a Brexit deal that might deliver an orderly exit from the European Union,” he said.

“Nor would I be able to support any government in which you were Prime Minister, however temporary its mandate. Several other MPs sitting on the opposition benches have said the same.”

Instead, Mr Boles urged the Labour leader to focus on “seizing control of the order paper and passing an Act of Parliament” to force Mr Johnson to seek a further Brexit extension if he cannot secure a deal with the EU.

Arguing that Downing Street would respond to such a move by trying “to engineer the prorogation of Parliament for an early election to be held on Friday 1 November”, he calls on Mr Corbyn to “instruct Labour MPs to frustrate” any attempt to shut down the Commons.

“It is therefore essential that you declare publicly that you will not facilitate an election before an extension of Article 50 has been secured and a No Deal Brexit has been averted,” he said.

“Until you do so, people will continue to doubt the sincerity of your declared opposition to No Deal Brexit and your readiness to put the interests of the country before the interests of your party and your personal ambitions.”

In a further jibe at the Labour leader, Mr Boles added: “As the media received your letters long before I did, you will understand why I have chosen to publish this reply in the same way.”

SPELMAN: 'FULLY SUPPORT' BORIS JOHNSON

Dame Caroline, the former Cabinet minister who has previously Commons tabled amendments aiming to scupper a no-deal Brexit, meanwhile reiterated her opposition to the Labour leader becoming PM as she declared her loyalty to Mr Johnson's quest to achieve a deal.

In a video message to local constituents, she said the letter from Mr Corbyn had been "completely unsolicited" and "was sent to me whilst I was away on a week's holiday".

She added: “I do not support Jeremy Corbyn's initiative and I would not support a government led by Jeremy Corbyn. And I do not support him entering Number 10.”

The Tory MP added: “I reiterate again that I fully support Boris Johnson as our prime minister and I would not, in any circumstances, bring down a Conservative government led by him.”

But the Scottish National Party, whose 35 MPs comprise the biggest opposition grouping in Parliament after Labour,  said MPs should "take every step" necessary to block a "devastating" no-deal Brexit.

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford - who will attend the talks - hinted that his MPs could be prepared to back Mr Corbyn's plan.

"All options must be on the table," he said.

"The SNP stands ready to pursue every avenue, including passing legislation to block no-deal and a vote of no confidence in the Tory government."

Meanwhile Anna Soubry, head of the Change UK faction of 5 former Labour and Tory MPs, said she was "pleased to confirm" that she will take part in the talks.

The former Conservative MP tweeted: "It is imperative we stop #NoDealBrexit.

"All Brexit options will harm our economy - crashing out without a deal is the very worst & we will work with everyone to stop it."

RECESS CALLS GROW

The responses came as a further 50 MPs joined calls for Mr Johnson to axe the summer Parliamentary recess to allow MPs to scrutinise preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Independent MP Luciana Berger and Labour's Stephen Doughty said more than 150 MPs had no signed up to the demand, with a statement saying the country was now "on the brink of an economic crisis".

However, the plan has already been shot down by Number 10, with a spokesperson for the Prime Minister saying this week that the House of Commons had already "agreed the date it would rise for summer recess".