Tom Watson hints at government of national unity to break Brexit deadlock

Posted On: 
30th March 2019

Tom Watson has hinted that he would be willing to serve in a government of national unity in an attempt to break the Brexit deadlock.

Tom Watson has floated the idea of a government of national unity.
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The Labour deputy leader said "if needs must, we have to then do what’s right", as Parliament struggles to agree a way for the UK to leave the European Union.

Mr Watson's comments are likely to spark an angry backlash from many Labour members, who would be bitterly opposed to their party going into government with the Tories as well as MPs from other parties.

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The last national government in the UK was during the Second World War, when the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberals formed a coalition administration as the country fought the Nazis.

Speaking to Prospect magazine, Mr Watson said: "Like Ernie Bevin I prefer Labour governments and I hope we never get to a point where our economy or security is so in peril that we get a government of national unity."

But he added: “If needs must, we have to then do what’s right."

MPs will vote on a range of alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit deal on Monday night, meaning the Prime Minister could be forced to implement an alternative policy.

Former Tory minister Nicky Morgan told Radio Four's Today programme that if she refused to do so, a national government could be formed to do it instead.

She said: "We would have to think very hard about whether a cross-party group of people could do that in order to ensure the UK leaves the EU in an orderly fashion."

The idea of a national government to deal with Brexit was floated last July by then-Tory MP Anna Soubry, who said: "I would reach beyond [the Labour frontbench] and I would encompass Plaid Cymru, the SNP and other sensible pragmatic people who believe in putting this country’s interests first and foremost."

She added: "I think we need a government of national unity, actually."

But a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said: "Labour would have nothing to do with some kind of establishment stitch-up to deny a proper voice for the majority of voters in this country."