Published On: Sat, Aug 17th, 2019

Brexit news: Remainer Letwin quizzed over latest bid to halt no deal | UK | News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned he will pull the UK out of the EU with or without a deal at the end of October this year. Earlier this week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to fellow opposition MPs and some Tory Remainers, calling for them to back him as a caretaker prime minister until a general election to halt the threat of a no deal at the end of October this year. Tory grandee Ken Clarke and senior Labour MP Harriet Harman have both been tipped as potential candidates to lead an emergency government to try to halt a no deal exit from the European Union.

Speaking on BBC’s Today programme, host Sarah Smith, quizzed Mr Letwin, who has repeatedly tried to stop the threat of a no deal Brexit in the Commons.

Asked about the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming a caretaker prime minister, Mr Letwin said: “That appears to be his agenda, I don’t think it is at all likely that a majority would be formed, for that, and I personally wouldn’t want to vote for that. I wouldn’t be able to support that.

“But, I think it’s well worth having discussions with everybody across the House because, you rightly identify the problem, which is there is probably lurking there, still a majority of MPs who don’t want to have a no deal exit.

“But, the issue is can we get all of those MPs to agree on some alternative proposition, and if that doesn’t happen we will have a no deal exit on October 31 because that only requires inaction for it to happen.”

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Asked whether Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman could form an “emergency government” to halt a no deal Brexit, Mr Letwin added: “I know that possibility has been muted and discussed.

“But, we come back to the same issue. It is all very well to say could you have an interim government or could you have this mechanism or that mechanism? There are several mechanisms available.

“The issue is what would that interim government do, or what would some mechanism produce substantively.

“You can’t just say, ‘I don’t want to have a no deal exit’, you have got to say ‘what else do I want to have’, you have to get an agreement on that.”

He continued: “You are not going to get people to vote for any mechanism of that or any other until they know what the end game is. What is the thing they can all agree would happen instead of leaving on October 31?

“I have to say at the moment I am not terribly optimistic about all this because I don’t see emerging an agreement on that.

“That is why I think we need to talk, talk a lot, talk frankly, accept people have different first preferences, we have got to find something a majority can agree to.”

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson suggested the Father and Mother of the House could lead an interim government to halt a no deal exit from the EU.

But, on Friday, Mr Corbyn rejected the suggestion that Tory grandee Mr Clarke or senior Labour MP Ms Harman could lead the emergency government.

Mr Corbyn told PA: “It’s not up to Jo Swinson to choose candidates, it’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who the next prime minister is going to be.

“Surely she must recognise she is a leader of one of the opposition parties who are apparently opposed to this Government, and apparently prepared to support a motion of no confidence.”

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Mr Corbyn said Ms Swinson should respect the “normal precedent” to allow the leader of the opposition to form an administration after a successful vote of no-confidence in the Government.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has written to the Liberal Democrat leader to try to get her to back Mr Corbyn’s original plan, after Ms Swinson suggested the Labour leader was not the right man for the job.

He wrote: “Constitutional experts are warning that there may be only one chance left to stop Boris Johnson delivering a no deal.

“That involves defeating his Government in a vote of no confidence as soon as Parliament returns in September, and then forming a short-term government of national unity in order to get an extension of article 50 and trigger a general election.

“There is no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is the only viable choice to lead a temporary government of national unity in order to stop no deal.

“There is simply no viable parliamentary majority or justification for any of the alternatives you have put forward

“It is not too late to do the right thing in the national interest and change your position for these crucial talks.”

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