With the UK Prime Minister hinting a No Deal Brexit is looking increasingly likely, Labour is intent on gaining cross-party support to stop it in its tracks…
The UK Labour party is leading the charge against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s potential ‘Hard Brexit’ scenario whereby Britain may crash out of the European Union on 31st October without a deal. Labour, led by ardent Socialist Jeremy Corbyn, launched a campaign on social media this week where they announced their plan to call a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, in which case a Corbyn-led caretaker government would be put in place to stop a No Deal Brexit in its tracks. The party plans to hold a general election, where it would run on a plan of holding another referendum or ‘People’s Vote’ as it has become known, on whether UK should indeed leave the EU, or in fact remain.
In an extraordinary twist, it was reported on Friday that rebel Conservatives MPs have also suggested they might back a Corbyn-led government to stop Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn wrote to a group of Tories this week, along with several other opposition parties, to say they must install him in Downing Street if they want to avoid a No Deal Brexit on October 31st, after which he met up with several of the rebels. Guto Bebb, MP for Aberconwy, for one said that he was open to the idea of putting Corbyn in No.10. He is quoted in The Times newspaper as saying ‘I think that those who have said they will do anything necessary to stop the long-term damage of a no-deal exit must take seriously this type of offer’. It seems the Tory-led propaganda campaign against Jeremy Corbyn which for the last several years has branded him as everything from a traitor and a Soviet sleeper to an anti-Semite has been put on hold for the time being.
Meanwhile the Scottish Nationalists, who have vehemently argued against Brexit from the very outset, while denying that they have done a deal with Corbyn, have indicated that they would support him to stop a Hard Brexit. Speaking to the BBC earlier, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said ‘We will work with anyone and we will explore any opportunity to stop Brexit. It’s no secret I’m not the greatest fan of Jeremy Corbyn but we won’t rule out any option if it helps avert what is a looming catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit.” Furthermore she suggested that the Scottish people had given her a mandate to do so: ‘I would always try to work to put together an alternative to a Tory government and I think that’s what most people in Scotland would want me to do”.
As for the consistently pro-Remain Liberal Democrats, who have seen even high-profile Labour politicians such as former Tony Blair aide Alistair Campbell vote for them due to their anti-Brexit stance, they have also pledged support for Corbyn, although not for every aspect of his proposal to stop Brexit. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said on Thursday that Labour plans for a caretaker government were ‘nonsense’, instead suggesting it should be led by Ken Clarke, the former Conservative chancellor or Harriet Harman, the former Labour deputy. For this Swinson received criticism from Nicola Sturgeon, who said her approach was ‘daft’ and Green party leader Caroline Lucas, who in a video message, asked the Lib Dem leader to change her mind over this.
Indeed, for opposition to Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan to succeed, it is imperative that there is unity amongst pro-Remain MPs. Any sign of fractions and splits at this stage would only bolster’s Johnson’s position to carry Britain out of the EU ‘come what may’.
Earlier this week Johnson had invited criticism from MPs for his scathing attack on EU politicians who he said were ‘collaborating’ with Remain politicians at Westminster against Brexit and preventing a deal from being negotiated. Johnson, who unlike his predecessors has taken regularly to social media to communicate his ideas, was speaking via Facebook live when he commented that if the EU did not make more of an attempt to compromise on a Brexit deal, there would be no option but to leave without a deal.
Meanwhile it was reported on Friday that the UK is ‘one step away from a recession’. The uncertainty over Brexit, with delay upon delay, and still no consensus in parliament, has all taken its toll on Britain’s economy. Time will tell if Boris Johnson can single-handedly steer the Brexit ship to safety, or if indeed it will be stopped in its tracks by a coalition of Remainers at Westmister.
Johanna Ross, journalist