LONDON (Reuters) – The leader of the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats party said on Friday two senior lawmakers from the ruling party and opposition have indicated willingness to lead an emergency government to prevent a no-deal divorce with the European Union.
FILE PHOTO: Labour politician Harriet Harman joins a vigil in Trafalgar Square the day after an attack, in London, Britain March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
Given Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a negotiated transition, foes are plotting how to bring him down and stop a no-deal Brexit they say would be disastrous for the economy.
The main opposition party Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn wants a no-confidence vote, caretaker government with him as head, then an election, while the Liberal Democrats prefer to find alternative leaders for a unity government.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson told BBC radio on Friday that former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and ruling Conservative party veteran Ken Clarke had both told her they would be prepared to assume that role.
“They put public duty first and they don’t want to see a no-deal Brexit,” Swinson said.
“If the House of Commons asks them to lead an emergency government to get our country out of this Brexit mess and to stop us driving off that cliff to a no deal, then yes they are prepared to do that.”
With Johnson staking his premiership on Brexit, the EU refusing to re-open a previously-negotiated withdrawal deal and a majority of lawmakers opposed to a no-deal divorce, Britain is heading for a parliamentary showdown and constitutional crisis.
Opponents of no deal say it would be a nightmare for what was once one of the West’s most stable democracies. A disorderly divorce, they say, would hurt global growth, send shockwaves through financial markets and weaken London’s claim to be the world’s preeminent financial centre.
Brexit supporters say there may be short-term disruption from a no-deal exit but that the economy will eventually thrive if cut free from what they cast as a doomed experiment in integration that has led to Europe falling behind China and the United States.
Labour wants a vote of no-confidence in the government shortly after parliament returns from its summer break on Sept. 3. Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News the government would win such a vote.
“I don’t see Jeremy Corbyn being able to come together with the numbers, nor do I see any prospect of him leading a so called national unity government,” he said.
“He’s the most unpopular leader of the opposition we’ve ever had and the idea that he’s going to lead a unity government I think is ridiculous,” he said.
Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne