Blow for Jeremy Corbyn's unity government plan as Tory rebels say they will not back him as PM

Posted On: 
16th August 2019

Jeremy Corbyn's hopes of forming a national unity government to block a no-deal Brexit have been dealt a blow as two more pontential Conservative rebels spoke out against the plan.

Mr Grieve reportedly said he would not "facilitate" a government led by Mr Corbyn.
Credit: 
PA

Former Cabinet ministers Dominic Grieve and David Gauke both distanced themselves from the Labour's leader's cross-party call to back him in leading a "strictly time-limited" government that would extend Article 50 and then call a general election.

Mr Grieve - who on Thursday agreed to sit down for talks with Mr Corbyn - said he would "not facilitate" a government led by Mr Corbyn, according to a leaked email.

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The New Statesman reports that Mr Grieve, the former attorney general who has led backbench efforts to hand Parliament greater control of the Brexit process, repsonded to a highly critical email on the Labour leader's offer by saying he agreed "entirely".

"I am not about to facilitate Jeremy Corbyn’s arrival in Downing Street," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Gauke, the former Justice Secretary who has long warned about the impact of a no-deal Brexit tweeted: "If anyone thinks the answer is Jeremy Corbyn, I think they’re probably asking the wrong question."

The move comes after Caroline Spelman, one of the Conservatives copied in to the Mr Corbyn's letter outlining his plan and who had agreed to attend talks, also made clear that she would not be able to back him becoming Prime Minister.

"I could not support a Corbyn Government, end of. I am not going to vote against my own government in a vote of no confidence."

However, former minister Guto Bebb urged his colleagues to "take seriously" the offer, saying a short-term government led by Labour would be "less damaging than the generational damage that would be caused by a no-deal Brexit".

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson on Friday continued to call for "an experienced MP" who could command "respect across the House" to step up and lead a unity government in a bid to prevent Britain leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October.

She told the BBC's Today programme that she had spoken to both Conservative grandee Ken Clarke and long-serving Labour MP Harriet Harman about taking on the job.

"I have been in touch with them because obviously you don't just mention people's names without checking that they're okay with that," the Lib Dem leader said.

She added: "If the House of Commons asks them to lead an emergency government to get our country out of this Brexit mess and to stop us driving off that cliff to a no-deal, then yes, they are prepared to do that."

But Mr Corbyn told the BBC he was "ready to serve" - and, speaking on a visit to Wales, said he was "disappointed" by the Lib Dem leader's initial rejection of his offer.

Asked whether he could back a government led by Mr Clarke or Ms Harman, he said: "Under normal constitutional processes in Britain, when a government collapses, the leader of the opposition is called on to form a government."