Jeremy Corbyn has called for cross-party co-operation among MPs opposed to Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy, and set out further details of his ambitious plan to block no deal before October 31st.
In a letter sent to other party leaders and senior backbenchers from across parliament today, the Labour leader said “our priority should be to work together in parliament to prevent a deeply damaging no deal being imposed on the country, denying voters the final say”.
He confirmed that his intention would be force a Commons vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister “at the earliest opportunity when we can be confident of success”, then – after the success of such a motion – form a “time-limited” government that would call a general election and extend Article 50.
Corbyn reiterated that Labour would be campaigning in that general election on a platform of supporting another public vote on Brexit, including a ‘Remain’ option on the ballot paper. He did not reveal whether Labour would support Remain in that referendum – a decision that is likely to be made by a ‘Clause V’ manifesto meeting, informed by the Brexit motion passed at party conference.
The letter was addressed to the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts, the Green Party’s only MP Caroline Lucas, and former Conservative representative Nick Boles, plus Tory rebels Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin and Caroline Spelman.
On Friday, Corbyn wrote to Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill on the matter of whether Boris Johnson would have to seek an extension to Article 50 if he called an election to take place after the Brexit deadline. In the opposition leader’s letter to anti-no deal MPs today, he described the response he received from Sedwill as “non-committal”, making Labour’s call for a cross-party effort more crucial.
Update: The Lib Dems have rejected Corbyn’s plan. The SNP has said it will join Labour in bringing down the government in a confidence vote. The Greens’ Caroline Lucas confirmed she would back a vote of no confidence but asked Corbyn to support a different MP as leader of a temporary government if he cannot win the confidence of the House himself. She also said: “Holding a general election before a people’s vote is the wrong way around.”
Below is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s letter.
Last week I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary, Mark Sedwill, for his view on how purdah rules would apply if parliament is dissolved for a general election campaign that straddles the Brexit date of 31st October.
I enclose a copy of his non-committal reply, which I received yesterday (13 August) and should inform our discussions.
While it is likely that the issue will be contested in the courts, our priority should be to work together in parliament to prevent a deeply damaging no deal being imposed on the country, denying voters the final say.
This government has no mandate for no deal, and the 2016 EU referendum provided no mandate for no deal. I therefore intend to table a vote of no confidence at the earliest opportunity when we can be confident of success.
Following a successful vote of no confidence in the government, I would then, as Leader of the Opposition, seek the confidence of the House for a strictly time-limited temporary government with the aim of calling a general election, and securing the necessary extension of Article 50 to do so.
In that general election, Labour will be committed to a public vote on the terms of leaving the European Union, including an option to Remain.
I would welcome the chance to discuss these proposals further with you, which I hope can halt the serious threat of no deal, end the uncertainty and disarray, and allow the public to decide the best way ahead for our country.
Leader of the Opposition