Jeremy Corbyn urged anti-Boris Johnson MPs to make him Britain’s caretaker prime minister to avoid a no-deal Brexit – but his proposal was met with a mixed response on Thursday.
The Labour main opposition leader said once in power, he would seek to delay Britain’s October 31 exit date from the European Union and then call a general election.
Corbyn – the only person who can trigger a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Johnson’s government – will do so after MPs return to parliament on September 3, if he feels sure of victory.
Conservative PM Johnson has pledged to take Britain out of the E.U. on October 31, without a divorce deal if one cannot be agreed with Brussels.
With time running out, MPs opposed to Brexit, or at least to a no-deal departure, are scrambling for viable plans to stop Johnson in his tracks.
In a letter to other opposition leaders and leading rebel Conservatives, Corbyn said his plan “can halt the serious threat of no deal, end the uncertainty and disarray, and allow the public to decide the best way ahead.”
While the Scottish Nationalists, the second-biggest opposition party in parliament, welcomed the idea, the Liberal Democrats, the next-biggest, dismissed it as “nonsense”, saying Corbyn could not lead the charge.
Corbyn, a veteran leftist who is loathed by much of Britain’s political establishment, has pursued so-called “constructive ambiguity” over Brexit.
Rebel Conservatives said they were happy to discuss the idea with Corbyn, Sky News television reported, while Greens and Welsh nationalists offered conditional support.
Lib Dem Rejection
Johnson’s government commands just a one-vote majority in parliament’s lower House of Commons.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson urged MPs to back a law stopping Britain leaving the E.U. on October 31 without a deal, and request a delay to the departure date in order to hold another referendum.
She does want to oust Johnson through a no-confidence motion and install an emergency government.
But rather than Corbyn or even herself, she suggested it could be led by the longest-serving male or female MPs in the house.
She proposed Conservative former finance minister Ken Clarke or former Labour temporary leader Harriet Harman, as figures who are clearly not seeking long-term power.
The Lib Dems are prepared to throw Britain off the No Deal cliff for their own cynical, party political ends. pic.twitter.com/Zxb5JsMvf6
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) August 15, 2019
Labour’s business spokeswoman Rebecca Long-Bailey insisted Corbyn’s plan was “the simplest and most democratic way of avoiding a no-deal situation.”
She said the notion could prevent Johnson from calling a general election for after October 31.
“We have to stop no-deal,” she told BBC radio.
In a tweet, Momentum, a grassroots political organization aligned with Corbyn, said that Lib Dems who reject Corbyn’s plan “should never again be taken seriously on their opposition to no-deal.”
A Downing Street spokesman said Corbyn would “overrule” the 2016 referendum vote to leave the E.U., and “wreck the economy.”
If Johnson lost a vote of no confidence, that would trigger a 14-day period, by the end of which either he, or another figure, must be able to show they can command a majority in the Commons.
If not, a general election must be held – with Johnson having sway over the date.
The Britain Elects opinion poll aggregator puts the Conservatives at 30 percent, with Labour at 25 percent, the Liberal Democrats at 18, the Brexit Party at 15 and the Greens at six percent.
Johnson succeeded Theresa May as leader of the governing Conservatives last month on a promise to take Britain out of the bloc by the twice-delayed deadline.
The British parliament three times rejected the separation terms May signed with her E.U. counterparts last year, triggering her downfall.
Johnson insisted Wednesday that Brussels had to give ground in order to avoid a sudden rupture in trade and diplomatic ties.
He said a “terrible collaboration” of Brussels and Brexit-blocking MPs was forcing Britain towards a no-deal exit.
“The more they think there’s a chance Brexit can be blocked in parliament, the more adamant they are in sticking to their position,” Johnson said of E.U. chiefs.