Conservative rebels agree to meet Jeremy Corbyn to discuss installing him as prime minister to stop a no-deal Brexit

  • Anti-Brexit Conservative members of parliament have welcomed discussions with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over his plan to oust Boris Johnson, take over as caretaker prime minister, and delay Brexit.
  • Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke, Caroline Spelman and Nick Boles all wrote to the Labour leader agreeing to talks.
  • Conservative MP Guto Bebb became the first to explicitly indicate he could vote to topple his own government.
  • The Labour leader’s plan has received support from some opposition parties but others remain opposed to backing him.
  • Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has insisted that Jeremy Corbyn is not the right politician to unite opposition forces and stop Johnson.

Conservative rebels are set to meet with Jeremy Corbyn to discuss installing him as temporary prime minister to stop a no-deal Brexit.

Several former Conservative ministers yesterday said they “welcomed” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to bring down the government, install himself as a temporary prime minister, and delay Brexit.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, as well as senior Conservative colleagues Oliver Letwin, Caroline Spelman, and Nick Boles — who now sits as an independent MP — signed a letter offering to meet Corbyn “to discuss the different ways” of preventing a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

It comes after the Labour leader wrote a letter to other opposition parties proposing a government of national unity, which would see him installed as a caretaker prime minister “on a strictly time-limited basis” to request a delay to Brexit before calling a general election.

In order for the plan to work, at least two Conservative MPs — as well as all opposition MPs — would need to vote against Boris Johnson’s government, which has a majority of two, in a confidence vote.

Guto Bebb, who is standing down at the next election and opposes no deal, became the first Conservative MP to indicate on Thursday that he would be willing to vote against Johnson and support Corbyn as a temporary prime minister.

“A short-term Jeremy Corbyn government is less damaging than the generational damage that would be caused by a no-deal Brexit,” he said.

Corbyn’s plan faces major hurdles to success. Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson on Thursday denounced Corbyn’s plan as “nonsense” and said he did not appear able to unite even his own MPs, let alone disparate opposition groups.

She insisted that a caretaker government should be led by Labour MP Harriet Harman or Tory MP Ken Clarke, the longest-serving female and male parliamentarians respectively.

Anna Soubry, who leads the Independent Group of Change — which has 5 MPs — also categorically ruled out supporting a Corbyn-led temporary government.

On Thursday night, Swinson appeared partially to climb down and offered to meet Corbyn, tweeting: “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.”

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary. said on Thursday: “I think it’s absolutely extraordinary that any Conservative MP considered even for one minute installing Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.”

“You really need to think very very carefully about installing Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street,” he added.

On Thursday evening, Boris Johnson tweeted: “The referendum result must be respected. We will leave the EU on 31st October. #LeaveOct31.”

Grieve, Letwin, Superman and Boles were all recipients of the letter in which Corbyn invited MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit to support his attempts to form a caretaker government.

The letter the group sent in response said: “We agree that our common priority should be to work together in Parliament to prevent No Deal Brexit and welcome your invitation to discuss the different ways that this might be achieved. We would be happy to meet with you as well as colleagues from other opposition parties whenever convenient in the weeks before Parliament returns.”

On Thursday, Spelman appeared to backtrack on the letter, saying: “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.”

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