Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has agreed to meet Jeremy Corbyn to discuss “a deliverable plan” to stop a no-deal Brexit, despite rejecting Corbyn’s proposal to become caretaker PM.
In a tweet Swinson said, “I’ve offered to meet Jeremy Corbyn to discuss how we can work together on a deliverable plan to stop no-deal, including the option of uniting behind an MP who can command a majority in the House.”
This comes in response to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to stop a no-deal Brexit, which he outlined on Thursday. The plan involves calling a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson, with Corbyn taking over as caretaker prime minister and forming an interim government. As prime minister, he would then delay Brexit, call a general election and campaign for a second referendum.
However, the Lib Dems have been hesitant to support such a plan, arguing that Corbyn will not be able to command the parliamentary majority required to be installed as prime minister.
After a successful vote of no confidence, parliament has two weeks to find a majority for an alternative government. Failing that, a general election would be called. Crucially, Corbyn would require the backing of a handful of rebel conservative MPs in order to get that majority. The Lib Dems have questioned whether enough would vote against the government, insisting their opposition to Corbyn’s premiership is purely “pragmatic”.
Although a number of conservative MPs are strongly opposed to a no-deal Brexit and some have shown a willingness to go to extreme lengths to stop it, not all of them are 100% behind the idea of bringing down the government. With several Labour MPs also opposed to certain aspects of Corbyn’s plan, particularly the idea of a second referendum, it would likely be a challenging path a majority for the Labour leader.
The Lib Dems have instead proposed two alternative candidates for an emergency government: Labour’s Harriet Harman and Conservative Ken Clarke. Both experienced and long-serving MPs, they have declared themselves willing to take on the role of caretaker prime minister if necessary.
Nevertheless, Swinson and the Lib Dems faced considerable backlash for their opposition to Corbyn’s plan. Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn wrote to Swinson insisting that a Corbyn government was the “only viable choice” guaranteed to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Although Swinson backed down and agreed to meet with Corbyn, she is still maintaining her stance that an alternative route should be pursued.
Tweeting on August 16th, she said, “Increasingly clear that Jeremy Corbyn cannot command the confidence of the House. As I said in my speech yesterday, we should focus on plans that can work, like a law to extend Article 50 or another candidate for PM”.