Installing Jeremy Corbyn as caretaker prime minister is the “only failsafe way” of avoiding a no-deal Brexit in less than 68 days’ time, a Labour shadow minister has claimed.
Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, implored MPs opposed to leaving the EU without a divorce agreement to support Labour’s plan to bring down Boris Johnson’s government through a no-confidence motion.
Mr Corbyn has promised, in such a scenario, he would then enter 10 Downing Street on a temporary basis in order to call a general election.
Labour would contest a general election with the promise of offering voters the chance to reverse Brexit through a second EU referendum.
The Labour leader is meeting with other party leaders and senior MPs wanting to block a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday, where he will outline his proposal as well as listen to their alternative plans – such as attempting to introduce legislation to force a further extension to Article 50.
However, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has already dismissed Mr Corbyn’s strategy as unworkable as, she claimed, a majority of MPs in the House of Commons would not support him entering 10 Downing Street.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday show, Mr Gardiner branded Ms Swinson’s response “extremely petulant”.
“She’s been saying, and the Liberal Democrats have been saying for so long, ‘Look, we need to have a second referendum and Remain needs to be on the ballot paper.’
“They are now being offered a failsafe parliamentary procedural way of delivering that and they’re saying, ‘Oh well, we’re not going to cooperate if Jeremy Corbyn is going to be the caretaker leader.'”
Mr Gardiner argued the “natural constitutional process”, following the collapse of a government, is for the leader of the main opposition party to be invited to form a new administration.
He suggested, if an alternative caretaker prime minister was proposed, the Queen would face a “very embarrassing and difficult judgement”.
“It would be extremely damaging to our constitutional precedence to have Her Majesty forced into taking a clearly political decision… instead of doing what is the natural thing which is to ask the leader of the main opposition party to form a new administration,” Mr Gardiner added.
Former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who is now the Lib Dems’ shadow foreign secretary, accused Mr Gardiner of “patronising tribal bluster”.
He said Ms Swinson had “very reasonably pointed out Jeremy Corbyn needs at least eight Tory rebels to support his prospective premiership for his caretaker government to work”, adding: “This is not going to happen.”
Mr Umunna suggested “nothing will give” Mr Johnson and his Downing Street aides “more pleasure than those opposed to a no-deal Brexit wasting precious time pursuing unworkable plans”.