LONDON: British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday joined calls for parliament to be recalled, saying during a speech in Corby, central England, that “we will do everything to stop a no-deal Brexit”.
He said Prime Minister Boris Johnson must not be allowed to use parliamentary procedure to block discussion of the country’s future, referring to concerns that Johnson could suspend the legislature until after October 31 or delay a national election even if his government fell before that date.
“We do support the recall of parliament in order to prevent the prime minister having some kind of manoeuvre to take us out on the 31st of October without any further discussion in parliament,” Corbyn said.
His comments added weight to a demand made on Sunday, signed by more than 100 lawmakers, for a parliamentary recall to discuss what they called a “national emergency”.
Parliament is currently not due to sit until September 3, when it will reconvene for a short session before breaking up again to allow for annual party conferences.
A government source said Michael Gove, the minister in charge of coordinating no deal preparations, would give a statement to parliament as soon as it returns, updating them on the latest progress. He would commit to give regular updates, the source said.
Labour wants to bring down Johnson’s government and form its own emergency coalition under Corbyn’s leadership to delay Brexit. Other opponents of a no-deal Brexit have balked at supporting a plan that would put Corbyn in charge.
The opposition Labour Party’s finance spokesman John McDonnell said on Monday that the looming crisis demanded parliament’s summer break be brought to an early end.
“There’s a need now to bring MPs back together again because we need time now to really have a proper debate and discussion about this,” McDonnell, a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, told BBC radio.
Johnson will make his first foreign trip as prime minister this week, meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday. He will tell them that the British parliament cannot stop Brexit and that a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one.
Lawmakers from other parties have dismissed the possibility of Corbyn, a veteran leftist, leading any so-called Government of National Unity, preferring either someone else to do the job or else to focus on other parliamentary procedures to block a no-deal.
“I don’t see how he [Corbyn] could lead a government of national unity,” Dominic Grieve, a rebel lawmaker from Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party, told the BBC, adding that other people could lead such a government.
“But I am perfectly prepared to cooperate with him [Corbyn] and indeed with anybody else in the House of Commons to make sure that no-deal, which is being threatened by the current government, doesn’t happen,” Grieve said.
McDonnell said there was a majority in parliament committed to stopping a no-deal exit, and that Corbyn would meet rival leaders next week to discuss the best approach to doing so.
Johnson’s ministers played down the leaked no-deal assessment on Sunday, saying the document was old and did not reflect the increased funding and planning that the prime minister has undertaken since he took office last month.
They accuse Labour and others who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit of undermining negotiations with the EU, saying that EU leaders will wait to see if parliament can block such an outcome before deciding whether to renegotiate the deal.