September 28, 2021

Nicola Sturgeon hints she WILL back Jeremy Corbyn as ‘unity’ PM

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Downing Street warned Jeremy Corbyn will ‘sell the UK down the river’ today after he was backed as a ‘unity PM’ by Nicola Sturgeon.

The SNP leader signalled she is ready to line up behind the hard-Left Labour leader as part of an all-out effort to block No Deal Brexit.

She also broke ranks with other Remainers by suggesting that a confidence vote to oust Boris Johnson should be held before an extension is secured – rather than afterwards. 

The move could pave the way for a huge Commons showdown as early as next week – when Mr Johnson is meant to be in Manchester for the Tory conference.

A Downing Street source said the intervention showed Labour had done a deal to hold a second Scottish independence in return for being propped up in power.  

However, even if the government was defeated in a confidence vote, it is still far from clear Mr Corbyn could secure a majority in the Commons to replace Mr Johnson in No10. 

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has insisted she would never put the veteran left-winger in charge of the country, and he would also need at least tacit support from the exiled Conservative rebels. But there would be immense pressure on her to fall into line if the Opposition won an initial confidence vote. 

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, when a PM loses such a battle there is a two-week period for someone else to win a confidence vote. If that does not happen an immediate election is triggered. 

Remainer MPs told MailOnline they were concerned Ms Swinson is getting ‘itchy feet’ about the potential seat gains the party could see at an early election, given it is riding high in the polls.  

The SNP move could pave the way for a huge Commons showdown as early as next week – when Boris Johnson (pictured at a hospital in Harlow, Essex today) is meant to be in Manchester for the Tory conference

Nicola Sturgeon (left) dramatically declared that she could back Jeremy Corbyn (right) as a ‘unity’ PM today

Ms Sturgeon was responding to a message saying the only ‘failsafe’ way of getting a Brexit extension was to install ‘Corbyn or someone else as PM’

Ms Sturgeon was responding to a message saying the only ‘failsafe’ way of getting a Brexit extension was to install ‘Corbyn or someone else as PM’. 

How could Corbyn get a Commons majority? 

No single party has had a majority in the House of Commons since the 2017 election. 

The Tories are the biggest single group with 287 MPs out of the total 650.

They are allied with the DUP, which has 10 MPs. 

Before Boris Johnson stripped 21 Remainers of the whip – and Amber Rudd resigned in solidarity – he was on the threshold of the magic number of 320. 

That is enough to control the House, factoring in the seven Sinn Fein MPs who do not take their seats and the Speaker and deputy Speaker who do not vote. 

But Mr Corbyn’s path to a majority in a confidence vote is much slimmer. 

There are currently 245 Labour MPs, and not all of them want to see him as PM. 

Even with support from the SNP’s 35 MPs, Mr Corbyn would still be well short.

He would need the 18 Lib Dems MPs, and then another 22 votes.

That would come from a configuration of four Plaid, one Green, five Independent Group, and 32 independents – which includes the 22 former Tory Remainer rebels. 

‘Agree with this,’ the Scottish First Minister said. ‘VONC (vote of no confidence), opposition unites around someone for sole purpose of securing an extension, and then immediate General Election. 

‘Nothing is risk free but leaving Johnson in post to force through no deal – or even a bad deal – seems like a terrible idea to me.’  

Mr Johnson challenged critics to table a vote of no confidence and face him in an election during stormy Commons clashes earlier this week.

However, up until now opposition parties have refused to take up the offer – saying they want to wait until the Halloween Brexit deadline has been pushed back.

A Remainer law passed earlier this month obliges Mr Johnson to beg the EU for an extension if an agreement has not been reached by October 19. 

There have been fears that a no confidence vote could put Mr Johnson in control of the Brexit timetable, as he would be able to dictate the date for a general election if another PM who can secure a Commons majority does not emerge within a fortnight.

Even with support from the SNP’s 35 MPs, Mr Corbyn would still be well short of the mark of 320 he needs to guarantee a majority in the Commons. 

There are currently 247 Labour MPs, and not all of them want to see him as PM. 

Despite Ms Swinson’s promise not to support Mr Corbyn with her 18 MPs, some pro-EU MPs have told MailOnline they are worried the Lib Dems are getting ‘itchy feet’ and are eyeing their potential gains from a quicker election.  

Labour paved the way for an alliance with the SNP earlier this month when shadow chancellor John McDonnell made clear the party would not block a fresh independence vote.  

What happens next in the Brexit crisis? 

Here is how the coming weeks could pan out:  

Today: Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and the EU’s Michel Barnier held talks in Brussels. 

September 29-October 2: Tory conference takes place in Manchester, but likely to be hampered by the fact Parliament is sitting. 

Mr Johnson is due to give his first keynote speech as leader on the final day – but the scheduling is in turmoil as he should be taking PMQs at the same time. 

The speech will be a crucial waypointer on how Brexit talks are going. 

October 17-18: A crunch EU summit in Brussels, where Mr Johnson has vowed he will try to get a Brexit deal despite Remainers ‘wrecking’ his negotiating position. 

October 19: If there is no Brexit deal by this date Remainer legislation obliges the PM to beg the EU for an extension to avoid No Deal. 

Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will only let Mr Johnson trigger an election after an extension has been secured. 

October 31: The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU. 

November/December: An election looks inevitable, but Labour is hinting it might push the date back towards Christmas to humiliate the PM further. 

A Downing Street source said: ‘We have known for a long time that Jeremy Corbyn is willing to sell the Union down the river in his attempts to get in to Downing Street without an election.

‘The public don’t want to see these backroom deals – they want to see parliament held to account at an election.’

No10 aides are convinced that former Cabinet minister Amber Rudd is lining herself up as Chancellor on a ticket with Labour veteran Margaret Beckett as PM.

‘She is on manoeuvres,’ one source said. ‘She wants to be the Chancellor in a Beckett government.’ 

Ms Rudd tore into Mr Johnson for the rhetoric coming out of his government today, saying it ‘incites violence’. 

‘The sort of language I’m afraid we’ve seen more and more of coming out from Number 10 does incite violence,’ she told the Evening Standard.

‘It’s the sort of language people think legitimises a more aggressive approach and sometimes violence.’  

Mr Johnson has faced a backlash after he repeatedly used the phrase ‘Surrender Act’ in a Commons debate to describe legislation passed by rebel MPs to block a No-Deal Brexit.

But yesterday he pledged to keep using the term as he warned that ‘people will feel very badly let down’ if the country does not leave the EU on October 31.

Maverick No10 chief Cummings last night said MPs should not be surprised about the level of anger directed towards them following the repeated delays to Brexit.

‘A lot of people in Parliament are more out of touch with the country now than they were in summer 2016,’ he told an event in London. 

Dominic Cummings (pictured right arriving in Whitehall today) has been at the heart of the government’s controversial Brexit strategy 

What are the confidence vote scenarios and does Corbyn have a path to victory?  

Boris Johnson is way short of a majority in the Commons since he stripped the whip from 21 Tories who rebelled over No Deal Brexit – and Amber Rudd then quit in solidarity.

Mr Johnson challenged critics to table a vote of no confidence and face him in an election during stormy Commons clashes earlier this week.

However, up until now opposition parties have refused to take up the offer – saying they want to wait until the Halloween Brexit deadline has been pushed back.

A Remainer law passed earlier this month obliges Mr Johnson to beg the EU for an extension if an agreement has not been reached by October 19. 

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, when a PM loses such a battle there is a two-week period for someone else to win a confidence vote. If that does not happen an immediate election is triggered. 

There have been fears that a no confidence vote could put Mr Johnson in control of the Brexit timetable, as he would be able to dictate the date for a general election if another PM who can secure a Commons majority does not emerge within a fortnight.

Here are the scenarios for what happens after the government loses a confidence vote:

Jeremy Corbyn secures a majority

Parliament’s Remainers decide that Mr Corbyn is their only option, making him best placed to succeed as PM. 

As the numbers are on a knife-edge, a vote is called and Mr Corbyn scrapes through. All 245 Labour MPs swallow their doubts and endorse him as PM. 

They are joined in the division lobbies by the SNP’s 35 MPs, and 18 Lib Dems MPs. 

He picks up another 22 votes to take him over the 320 mark from a variety of sources. The four Plaid and one Green MP are relatively kindly disposed.

But the five-strong Independent Group led by former Tory minister Anna Soubry, and 32 independent MPs will be harder work. Ex-Labour MPs John Mann, a strong critic of the leader over anti-Semitism, and Brexit supporter Frank Field, are incredibly unlikely to come over. 

It is possible Mr Corbyn could pick up a few supporters from the 22 former Tory Remainer rebels. Ex-Chancellor Ken Clarke has indicated that in extremis he could tolerate a short-lived Corbyn premiership.

Mr Corbyn goes to Brussels and secures a Brexit extension until January 31, then calls an election – which he is able to fight with the advantage of being ensconced in Downing Street. 

The SNP appears to be on board with a Corbyn ‘caretaker’ government – but as this chart shows he will need many more MPs to fall into line to get himself over the winning line of 320 votes and into Downing Street. Mr Corbyn could need to pick up seven of the 22 Tory Remainer rebels stripped of the whip, and persuade half the 10 other independent politicians

Another ‘unity PM’ takes over     

After Mr Johnson is defeated in an initial confidence vote, Mr Corbyn tries to put together a majority. But it soon becomes clear that he cannot get close to the numbers needed – as even some MPs in his own party will not tolerate him as PM.

Instead, under huge pressure from his own shadow cabinet, Mr Corbyn agrees to support a less controversial candidate as a temporary leader for the country.

Labour veteran Margaret Beckett and Tory grandee Ken Clarke have both been touted as potential candidates – partly because they are considered too old to want to stay around as premier for long.

No10 aides believe Amber Rudd has been positioning herself as a Chancellor in a Beckett administration.

The opposition parties mass behind the new PM, who comes into power with a mandate to extend the Brexit deadline and then call an election – possibly after a referendum. 

No other PM emerges

Once Mr Johnson loses the confidence vote, the opposition parties think they have the numbers to install a replacement.

But they turn out to be mistaken.

Mr Corbyn finds the resistance to his premiership is stronger than he thought, with the LIb Dems refusing to fall into line. 

But he in turn refuses to get behind any ‘unity’ candidate, insisting it is his constitutional right to be the next PM.

In these circumstances, a fortnight goes past with Mr Johnson still in No10.

At that point an election is triggered under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. Parliament is dissolved, and Mr Johnson gets to set the date of the ballot.

Remainers fear in these circumstances Parliament loses control as it is not sitting, and could be vulnerable to any tricks the government tries to pull to avoid delaying Brexit. 

Boris Johnson ‘faces Cabinet revolt on Brexit’ as ministers say Dominic Cummings’ aggressive plan has ‘clearly failed’ – amid warnings of riots if we don’t leave the EU

Boris Johnson is facing the threat of a Cabinet revolt on Brexit as ministers warn No10 chief Dominic Cummings’ plan has ‘clearly failed’.

Three Cabinet figures are preparing to confront the PM saying he must compromise with Labour and Remainer rebels to get a deal.

They are expected to tell Mr Johnson that if the EU offers a last-minute compromise on the hated Irish backstop he must ‘take what he can get’.

But there is little sign that Mr Johnson is in the mood to back down, with the Tory conference next week due to have the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’.

Cabinet figures are preparing to confront Boris Johnson (pictured at a hospital in Harlow, Essex today) saying he must compromise with Labour and Remainer rebels to get a deal

Mr Cummings last night dismissed claims the government’s ‘people versus politicians’ rhetoric was poisoning public discourse. 

He said MPs had spent three years since the referendum ‘swerving’ the result, jibing: ‘What do they expect?’

Another Cabinet minister has reportedly warned that failing to get Brexit through by the end of October would risk riots on the streets.

Meanwhile, Sir John Major has raised fears that Mr Johnson might try to abuse privy council powers to suspend a law that obliges him to beg for an extension rather than allowing the UK to crash out at Halloween. 

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