Corbyn’s offer: divisive by design?

Corbyn’s offer on Wednesday to opposition leaders was a new twist in the tragi-farce of Brexit. In brief, the offer goes as follows:

  1. He will table a vote of no-confidence in the Government.
  2. If that is successful, he would seek the confidence of the house to form a “strictly time-limited temporary Government”.
  3. If that is successful, he would aim to secure an extension to Article 50 to hold a General Election.
  4. He would then bring a vote to hold a General Election.
  5. In that General Election, Labour would commit to holding a public vote on the terms of exit, and it would include an option to Remain.

On social media, Labour supporters claim that if Lib Dems don’t support this it is a betrayal of our desire to stop Brexit (especially no-deal Brexit). To see a similar view in more words, the Guardian is reporting that the Lib Dems are now ‘isolated’ since other opposition leaders (Sturgeon, Lucas, Saville-Roberts) are receptive to the plan, and this is supported by an opinion piece.

Commentary has focused on whether Corbyn can command the confidence of the house. Swinson has challenged Corbyn to list the eight Conservative MPs whose support he can count on to get over the line (I make it nine with twelve independents so please correct me in the comments). Eight Conservatives seems like a stretch – I can’t even find eight current Conservatives who have backed a second referendum, let alone one brought about by Corbyn. Labour supporters think that being the leader of the Opposition gives Corbyn the right to head a unity government, whilst as Lib Dems we probably think that Corbyn and unity are unlikely concepts to find together and someone else would be better placed. 

The plan really falls apart at the General Election stage: I would argue the chances of returning a parliament which supports a people’s vote are very low. This is largely subjective, and therefore divisive: Labour supporters have been told for years that the only thing standing between Jeremy Corbyn and Downing Street is a General Election which they are bound to win (after all, he “won” the 2017 election didn’t he?). My assessment would be: 

  • The non-Conservative parties would be divided against a united Conservative party.
  • The “Leave” message from the conservatives would be much clearer than the “vote for us to have another vote on maybe not leaving or maybe leaving with some deal not sure what though” message from Labour.
  • It plays to Johnson’s strengths as a campaigner and personality
  • Labour would struggle to replicate their 2017 success, which was built on non-Brexit issues, without jeopardising the anti-no-deal-Brexit alliance who don’t agree with Labour on everything else. 

And even if a majority for a people’s vote is elected, it’s not clear if Corbyn wants a shot at renegotiating the withdrawal agreement, how he would campaign in the referendum, and even what would be in it (would it be deal vs remain, or no-deal vs deal vs remain). Then there’s the small matter of winning the referendum! Even just writing it all down is exhausting. Perhaps by this point, the “remain” option in the referendum campaign should be marketed as “make it all stop please”. 

From this I can only conclude that Corbyn’s offer is meant to be divisive: the offer makes sense from a Labour perspective in which Corbyn is one vote away from power, and maybe even an SNP perspective (they get to pick off some Conservative seats in Scotland), but in terms of actually stopping Brexit the odds seem dire. Compare all this to a more promising plan: unity government headed by figure of actual unity; hold second referendum on deal vs remain; either pass withdrawal agreement or revoke A50 based on referendum; hold GE and talk about something other than Brexit for a change. I think this (or something similar) is what Swinson is holding out for, and I think she’s absolutely right to. Regardless of what you think of Corbyn as Prime Minister, the offer has such a low chance of stopping Brexit it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. 


* MIchael Atkins has been a member of the Liberal Democrats since 2005.

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  • Nick Collins 17th Aug '19 - 10:58am

    So what’s your plan for stopping a no-deal exit from the EU?

  • jayne mansfield 17th Aug '19 - 11:34am

    One by one the tories who showed interest in the initiative are backtracking as they are referred to as ‘traitors’ collaborators etc.

    Well done.

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Aug '19 - 11:52am

    @ Nick Collins

    I was wondering that…

  • So once again you’re against something while not putting a case for something.

  • Peter Martin 17th Aug '19 - 12:42pm

    “Compare all this to a more promising plan: unity government headed by figure of actual unity; hold second referendum on deal vs remain…….”

    This is not a recipe for National Unity. Leavers would simply boycott any referendum which only had these two options and start a campaign of civil disobedience.

  • @Nick and Alex

    “Compare all this to a more promising plan: unity government headed by figure of actual unity; hold second referendum on deal vs remain; either pass withdrawal agreement or revoke A50 based on referendum; hold GE and talk about something other than Brexit for a change.”

  • Andreas Holland 17th Aug '19 - 12:58pm

    The thought that Ken Clarke it Harriet Harmon are figures of national unity is laughable.

  • Tony Greaves 17th Aug '19 - 1:02pm

    This is a very sensible article. The Corbyn so-called “plan” is just yet more Labour trickery and in any case cannot work. It is indeed therefore “nonsense”.

    But the best way forward is through legislative ways of stopping the 31st October deadline and banning leaving with No Deal. Beyond that everything is opaque (not least in how Mr Johnson would react) but it would leave the way still open to a People’s Vote.

    If the Vote of No Confidence option is indeed the only remaining way (to coin a phrase) there is still over two weeks to work out how it could work. All the froth and panic at the moment is premature and just being stirred up by the Bubble media.

  • Paul Barker 17th Aug '19 - 1:23pm

    Corbyns Plan never had any chance of success & wasn’t meant to. The Plan had 2 main purposes, to get Labour Remainers off Corbyns back & to divide The Remain Alliance before it could get its act together. So far, its been fairly effective in doing both those things.
    However, looked at in the slightly longer Term, the main effect has been to get The Libdems masses of Free Publicity & get lots of Voters asking ” Who is Jo Swinson”. Based on the most recent Polling only 1 in 3 Voters know who Jo is now, obviously we need to get that figure up quickly & it was very nice of Mr Corbyn to help us do that.
    On the wider question of how do we stop (No-Deal) Brexit.
    There are really only 2 routes which are certain to work
    A Temporary Administration that Revokes Article 50, followed by an Election, that looks impossible Now but who knows if the crisis in the streets get bad enough.
    A TA that calls an Election for before The Leave Date, not sure if this is possible. Followed by an Election where The Libdems or a Remain Alliance emerge as The largest Party/Grouping, that means getting 30% or thereabouts, probably.
    Everything else amounts to more Can-Kicking or Hand-Wringing.

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Aug '19 - 1:28pm

    As Oliver Letwin has admitted,

    ” You can’t just say ‘I don’t want a no deal exit’ you also have to say what you want to have’ and get agreement on that”

    Understandably he is not very optimistic.

  • Paul Griffiths 17th Aug '19 - 1:33pm

    If putting No Deal on the ballot paper with Remain and WA is the price that has to be paid to get a PeoplesVote at all, I think it would be worth the cost. But reasonable people may disagree about this.

    Also, and not a popular opinion on this site, Jo’s first instinct to rebuff Corbyn was correct. If we do end up having to support a Corbyn “caretaker” premiership, at least everyone will be clear that we’re not at all happy about it.

  • Mick Taylor 17th Aug '19 - 1:38pm

    Sadly if you want to do big league politics then you have to deal with this [expletive deleted]. I agree with Tony Greaves. Jo must hold her nerve and focus on stopping Brexit. Talk to everyone and decide later what is going to deliver. My view is cancel article 50 and get a real breathing space.

  • Peter Hirst 17th Aug '19 - 1:42pm

    The advantage of a General Election before Brexit is that The Brexit Party would be standing and cause issues for The Conservatives. How would history judge us if we allowed the Conservatives to leave the eu without some further accountability from the electorate? If we could get some guarantee of a fairer voting system, either a vote or manifesto pledge, I’d be prepared to support a JC administration to prevent a no deal Brexit.

  • Some, or all of that may be true.

    But the alternative for the Lib Dems is going to the country after no-deal, i.e., Brexit done and dusted. A general election in November/December 2019, or early 2020. The Lib Dems might opt for an election manifesto promise to open negotiations to rejoin the EU – that would go down like a lead balloon – certainly in England. And Johnson and the EU would make clear rejoining entail a completely new negotiation: sans rebate and with a commitment to join the Euro and support ever closer union.

    The Lib Dems are currently polling well, in large part because preventing Brexit altogether is still viable. Corbyn, for all his faults, can keep that option viable through an election campaign with his promise for a referendum with a ‘remain’ option. So, the real choice is a guaranteed Brexit (likely no-deal) with Johnson or a temporary Corbyn govt leading to an election which should see the Lib Dems putting in a good performance and Brexit eventually being abandoned. it should be a no-brainer for the Lib Dems.

  • Jonathan Smalley 17th Aug '19 - 1:49pm

    A great article with a sensible plan. My concern about Corbyn’s plan has always been that it could lead to an election in which the Tories under Johnson win a majority with only a third of the votes. Corbyn’s plan just kicks the possibility of no deal down the road. We could end up with a no deal brexit on the back of those who vote conservative in any election. Everyone’s voice must count on this issue – hence the need for a referendum.

    I would agree that a legislative way is the best solution which forces the government to request an extension from th EU in order to hold a referendum.

    If eventually the only route to stop no deal at the end of October is a vote of no confidence Corbyn needs to be prepared to support another MP who can command a majority across the commons. It should not be a Labour government in control but a cross party government whose job is to hold a referendum. This needs agreeing quickly.

    Jo Swinson’s ideas are very sensible – she just needs to think about the best way to present them to win people over. I’m sure she could be a great leader – if she learns from this experience. She could easily have come out on top here and avoided all the criticism if her initial reactions to Corbyn’s offer had been different.

  • The average corbyoutrider is genuinely puzzled why everyone isn’t flocking behind Jeremy. They believe shouting “Yellow Tory” and singing “O Jeremy Corbyn” will make everything right. They are stuck in a 2017 and struggle to accept times they have a changed. They tend to think once Brexit happens everyone will move onto their priorities and they will win. Of cause after Brexit the problems will get worse and the question “Why didn’t you stop it Jeremy is likely to crucify thrm”;

  • Paul Griffiths 17th Aug '19 - 2:06pm

    @ Andy

    One of the reasons that we are polling well, particularly in winnable Tory constituencies, is that Jo has previously ruled out supporting a Corbyn-led government. Which is what you are now urging her to do. Of course, she meant a coalition, but still.

  • William Fowler 17th Aug '19 - 2:13pm

    Perhaps the politicians should vote that no-deal can only happen after a referendum on no-deal v remain rather than completely ruling it out, it will get more support that way as well and the EU will be happy to provide an extension to art 50 for that. Boris, left to his own devices probably would not mind too much, not sure how his more extreme backers would react or whether he would go for a GE if corralled in such a direction.

  • Corbyn doesn’t care about stopping brexit, the Corbyn inner circle are banking on no deal happening and causing economic chaos. With Corbyn riding in to save us all.

    To be honest the opposition to brexit is a divided joke and an election is no solution. As a remainder who do I vote for?

    Corby is not fit to lead, the Greens are a bunch of sexists and your leader has the voting record of a Tory. Not exactly appealing choices.

  • @Paul Griffiths.

    There is very little evidence for that. Whereas there is plenty of evidence many Tory constituencies are increasingly anti-Brexit and totally against no-deal. The Lib Dems have picked up much of their new support in Tory constituencies that voted remain or narrowly leave, those voters would be more annoyed if parties didn’t cooperate.

  • David Becket 17th Aug '19 - 3:49pm

    If the election takes place after a no deal exit we do not campaign on negotiating to return. That may be a long term objective but there would be no support in the short term. Instead we promise to continue the negotiations to keep the UK as close to Europe and to mitigate some of the problems that will be starting to appear.
    If we end up with Jeremy as interim PM Jo need not lose face as long as she is seen to be part of the negotiations that have achieved a compromise.

  • John Peters 17th Aug '19 - 3:50pm

    “Which is maddening as all the new PM needs to do is extend A50 and call a general election.”

    How? There is such a thing as the fixed term parliament act? I’m not sure the Lib Dems are thinking this through.

  • ” unity government headed by figure of actual unity; ”

    Of course, no such person actually exists.

  • Paul Griffiths 17th Aug '19 - 4:14pm

    @John Peters

    If a “caretaker” government laid a FTPA S2(2) motion before the House, who do you think would vote against?

  • Geoffrey Payne.

    “It is a ridiculous state of affairs we have ended up in this mess.”

    We are in this mess because Remainers inside and outside parliament have attempted to
    Ignore and reverse the express instruction of the electorate given at the 2016 EU referendum that Britain must leave the European Union. The Remainers actions have turned Britain is into an undemocratic state where a democratic decision taken at a legal referendum is being ignored. I believe that this dangerous situation means that a far more important issue than Europe is at stake: namely the faith of our people in the authenticity of their democracy. Democracy can only function with the consent of the losers. I and millions like me had to endure successive Governments that we did not vote for and totally abominated, yet we never encouraged our MPs to question and overturn the results of those elections by trying to declare them invalid or void. Or ask for them to be re-run again. Yet, on the one occasion the people have voted with a majority against the wishes of the neo-Liberal elite, our votes, cast in good faith, are being completely ignored and traduced by that elite. I therefore welcome Corbyn’s divisive ruse. It is already revealing how shallow and opportunistic the motives of the Remainer MPs are, and that for them political calculation trumps principle every time. Government of National Unity? Have the Liberal Democrats no appreciation of irony?
    As a Labour supporter, member and Leaver, I shall be pleased to see Johnson take us out of the EU come what may on the 31st October. And if a GE is called before we leave, I shall vote for the Tories or the Brexit Party to ensure it happens. The first time in my life I will not have voted for a the Labour party at a General Election. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are many Labour members and supporters who will do the same. Once we have left the EU those who wish to rejoin the EU can continue to campaign to do so. Just as one always campaigns for one’s party to regain power when it loses at a General Election. That is democracy.

  • John Peters 17th Aug '19 - 4:38pm

    @Paul Griffiths

    “If a “caretaker” government laid a FTPA S2(2) motion before the House, who do you think would vote against?”

    Why on earth do you think a caretaker government would do such a thing Have you got this in writing or are you trusting politicians to keep their word.

  • Paul Griffiths 17th Aug '19 - 4:39pm

    @ Mack

    First, you don’t get to use the word “democracy” as if you own it. Democracy is a process, not an event, and it didn’t end in 2016.

    Second, the Liberal Democrats are not ignoring the result of the referendum. If we wanted to do that we could simply have pretended it didn’t happen or advocated revocation of Article 50.

    The 2016 referendum cannot be ignored, but it can be superseded by another referendum. A PeoplesVote would be just as democratic, and hopefully more legitimate and informed, than its predecessor.

    If, as we hope, the 2016 decision is reversed, it will only be because a majority of voters have decided that is what they want. And that, Mack, is democracy.

  • Paul Griffiths 17th Aug '19 - 4:44pm

    @ John Peters

    Well the clue, surely, is in the name “caretaker”. But if you are suggesting that Corbyn cannot be trusted the leave the stage voluntarily once No Deal has been safely avoided, I for one am not going to say you’re wrong.

  • Dilettante Eye 17th Aug '19 - 4:49pm

    Well said Mack (4.23pm)

    They still can’t grasp that Brexit isn’t some Tory extreme right wing conspiracy, and that there are probably as many Red Brexiteers as Blue Brexiteers.

    This is about who rules Britain.

    We leavers will win this, and we will re-instate our true democratic ability to Hire n Fire the folk who would legislate and rule over this British population.

  • @Michael Atkins –
    The problem is one of public perception. For the Lib Dems to present themselves as the lead party opposed to Brexit and no deal, and put forward their own no-confidence motion back in July, and then reject any contact with Corbyn when he makes his own proposals, just looks bad to a great many people who are really afraid of no deal and want to stop it. It looks like the LDs are playing games – I don’t necessarily agree, but that’s how a lot of people otherwise sympathetic to the LDs see it.

    And first impressions are all important. Jo Swinson moderated her tone and explained her position much better in her later letter to Corbyn, but far more people will have seen the initial headlines than will read the letter. Your argument too, Michael, is good and detailed, but huge numbers of people are not going to take that in either. In political messaging first, broad-brush impressions are very important, and the Lib Dems need to be far more clever in what we put out if we’re not just going to be corralled in a corner as the ‘yes-but’ party – which we have on a lot of social media in the last couple of days.

  • Peter Kenny 17th Aug '19 - 5:13pm

    So, a neutral figure leads a relatively lengthy ‘Government of National Unity’ to carry out a second referendum and then hold a GE.

    Neutrality is, of course, an utter fiction – over a period of some months decisions would have to be made, budgets set etc. At the first big political crisis it all falls apart.

    The funny thing is that one of the two ‘neutral’ figures your leader named – Ken Clarke – doesn’t even want a second referendum!

    I’m interested that the writer thinks that ‘No deal’ parties would win a GE and therefore the only way to get a second referendum is with this parliament. It seems to me that a GE would give people a democratic choice about what they wanted, just as the Tories had a referendum in their 2015 manifesto and acted on it. Otherwise it is really all a bit of a stitch up, isn’t it?

  • I was disappointed when Jo Swinson and Ed Davey both ruled out working with a Corbyn-led Labour party in the leadership hustings, and events since then have confirmed the worst.

    Charles Kennedy, Nick Clegg, Tim Farron and to a lesser degree Vince Cable, all know what it’s like to experience right-wing press vilification, albeit in their cases, mainly during election campaigns to thwart their progress. Anyone who wants to change the status quo suffers it. Corbyn and the Labour membership have been systematically vilified for years. But if you can actually view things objectively, there is far more potential common ground between the Lib Dems and Labour than between the LDs and the regressive Tories. Especially on democratic and constitutional reform: HoL reform; UK federalism and electoral reform. Ruling out cooperation on shared political objectives is insane.

  • Andy,
    Most of his MP’S don’t want Jeremy, like it or not he is toxic. Hence the need for someone else, but “Tis not fair” I hear you cry, well life isn’t fair and we better get over it.

  • John Marriott 17th Aug '19 - 5:41pm

    Amazing, isn’t it? Not ten years ago, leaving the EU was around number 14 in the list of ‘priorities’ for U.K. voters. So, what has changed? Austerity? The feeling of no longer being in control? The spread of multi nationals? The feeling that the country has changed and not for the better? An unease at hearing white people speaking languages other than English? Who knows?

    We Brits nearly always need someone to blame for our perceived misfortune. As the old blues song goes; “Before you blame me, take a look at yourself”. But, do they? Mr Eye says; “This is about who rules Britain”. Well, Britain rules Britain. It always has, or at least since 1066! It’s just a pity that we haven’t updated our political institutions to allow for changing demographics.

    We have agreed to ‘pool’ or share some of our sovereignty with our European partners in specific areas only. That’s the deal we have at the moment, which includes key opt outs for us. If we were forced to go down the Federal route as far as the EU was concerned, I would be the first to say ‘No’. But currently we are not. That’s why I still hope that Parliament can wake up, seek a compromise, in whatever form that it takes, to prevent a No Deal Brexit happening. The alternative, if the worst case scenario prevails, could be too dire to contemplate. However, if that does happen, Heaven forbid, you can be sure that the EU will get the blame.

  • Paul Barker 17th Aug '19 - 5:49pm

    Sorry in advance if this is a long comment.
    Britain & Parliament are divided into 3 basic Factions on Brexit.
    The biggest in The Country as a whole is The Remain group, stay in The EU. All the Polling suggests that 2 in 5 Voters back this option but only one Party, Our Party actually backs it without any reservation.
    The SNP want Scottish Independence which Brexit makes more likely & easier to manage but they dont want the blame. Expect Triangulation & Duplicity from them.
    Plaid really want to stay in The EU but they are very much the Junior Partner in The Celtic Nationalist Coalition, they find it very hard to stand up to The SNP.
    The Green Party of England & Wales really want to stay too but The Scottish Greens are allied to The SNP & the relationship with Labour creates more problems. A quarter of a Century ago The Green Party (All UK in those Days) adopted a Strategy known as “The Opening on The Left” – essentially it meant always being well to The Left of Labour & promoting themselves as Labours Conscience. As a Strategy it worked fine up till 2015 & still has some mileage even now, however it leads to Triangulation & confusion about Brexit which cuts right across The Left/Right Axis. The fact that Greens spent The Coalition Years simply parroting Labours attacks makes it hard for then to work with us now.
    Most MPs & probably 1 in 3 Voters would go for a Deal but Tory MPs won’t Vote for a Labour flavoured Deal & Vice Versa so that’s a dead duck, probably.
    No-Deal Brexit has the least support in the Country as a whole but The Leadership of both The Largest Parties want it so it remains the most likely outcome, for now.

  • @frankie

    But the party’s membership do.

    FYI I’m not a member of the Labour party, but if they’ve any sense the CLPs will take the opportunity offered by the trigger ballot process to pick new prospective parliamentary candidates, who will support his policy direction, if elected.

    From the moment he was elected leader in late 2015, there have been MPs the PLP out to destroy him. In 2016, 172 of his own MPs voted no-confidence and he had to fight off challenger Owen Smith. In 2017 those same MPs refused to campaign properly expecting an electoral wipe out would force his resignation.

    Some Labour MPs will never reconcile themselves to the idea that the Labour party should be a socialist movement and as a result it’s probably they who should go not Corbyn.

  • David Becket 17th Aug '19 - 6:05pm

    We need to stop this banter.

    We are in this mess because:
    1 The Tory Brexiters would not back the deal their own PM obtained. It was not a perfect deal, but it was the only one she was likely to get. If the Tories had backed her we would be out of the EU by now, full stop, no arguing.
    2 We now have the choice of two men who are not fit hold high office, Johnson and Corbyn
    3 Johnson is going to take us down the No Deal path, which will make this country poorer. Those already suffering from austerity will be the hardest hit, the Rees Moggs of this world will make a mint.

    Patriotic remainers are trying to stop this disaster that will make the country poorer. This is a difficult but not impossible task. Jo must know by now the pitfalls and dangers ahead.

    It is time for us to let her with the leaders of the other small parties and the patriots in the Tory and Labour parties get on with it, and wish them the best of luck.

  • Tristan Ward 17th Aug '19 - 6:32pm

    I cannot see how Corbyn’s strategy is consistent with anything other than having an election after Btexit has actually happened.

    We know the Labour party is predominantly for Remain, and yet Corbyn continues to refuse to bring Labour policy round to this. He would spike the Lib Dem and SNP guns by doing so and unite the Labour party. Fighting an election on a “Labour Brexit” platform or without saying whether Labour would support Remain in a 2nd referendum must be impossible – the Labour party would collapse under the strain.

    So I can see two possibilities: either the Labour leadership is planning a Damascene conversion to the Remain cause, or Corbyn seeks delay and confusion among the Remain forces until after (probably nodeal) Btexit when he will attempt to engineer an election to take advantage of the resulting chaos. Or wait until the end of the parliament since that will reunite the Labour party since there will be no Brexit to cause division any more.

    If a conversion to remain is being planned – perhaps to come out of the Labour party confwence – then it’s Jeremy to the rescue and he shoots an awful lot of minor party foxes. My bet is that he does not want this – but will the Labour party be able to force it?

  • David Beckett: yes , yes, let us say no more.

  • Looks to me like a situation unfolding where by there will be an agreement between Labour, the smaller parties and Con rebels whereby he will call for a vote of no confidence but will agree to a government led by for arguments sake Ken Clarke, with an agreement that there will be a delay to Brexit and either another referendum or an early general election.

  • Andy – “I was disappointed when Jo Swinson and Ed Davey both ruled out working with a Corbyn-led Labour party.”
    They didn’t. You need to get the language right. There is “talking to” another party, then there is “working with” it, and then there is “joining a coalition with” it. These are all different things. What Jo and Ed said in the leadership hustings was that they would not join a coalition with a Corbyn-led Labour party. That still leaves a lot of scope for “talking to” and “working with” it on individual shared objectives, and Jo has said she will do that, and indeed is doing it. It’s so important to get the language right when quoting someone.

  • It was always going to be messy. The media were always going to play a destabilising role. The unequivocally remain parties should continue with renewed urgency their conversations with each other and with the more equivocal parliamentary elements outside the Conservative majority element. The Brexit Party are not in the House of Commons although some newspapers have not quite grasped that. As ever those who have clarity of purpose hold the strongest cards. Meanwhile support for Jo Swinson’s efforts came from an unexpected quarter last week, namely the political editor of the Sun, Tom Newton-Dunn, who voiced the opinion “I think in the end we shall see that Jo Swinson has the numbers.” It was always going to be messy!

  • I simply cannot see a Government on national unity happening.

    If it was led by a Conservative, Labours momentum would go berserk and we would see mass deselection of labour MP’s who supported it and they know this.

    If it was led by Labour, the same would happen to any conservative mp who supported it.
    If all the same it did happen we ended up with NGOU who got an extension to brexit and then sent us back to a General Election
    Any Labour MP in a Brexit leaning constituency and there were 148 of them, would find themselves in extremely difficult waters and probably lose their seat to the Brexit Party or a Tory
    Any Tory in a brexit leaning constituency of which there were 247, would also find themselves in the pododo and at risk to the brexit party.

    Politicians, just like turkeys, do not usually vote to bring forward xmas.

    I still expect Corbyn to call a vote of no confidence, but it is my opinion a National Government of unity will fail to materialise and we will go straight into a new general election, which will put Boris in a stronger position, especially if it is scheduled for after the 31st.
    I suspect if any of this did happen, it would put Boris and probably Farage in an extremely strong position, they will be able to say to the people that, Labour and LD’s are trying to thwart democracy and the will of the people and obstructing parliament.
    I think they will galvanise on the message and really get their vote out.
    I suspect we would end up with either a slightly increased tory majority, or a coalition of Tory and Brexit Party.

  • There is nothing more amusing than Brexi’s and Lexis’s desperately blaming everybody for the mess we are in, rather than facing the truth and realising “Tis your mess, you voted for it and no matter how much you blame those that didn’t the idiot in the mirror isn’t going away”. Birds of a feather, flock together and you are very foolish birds indeed.

    just a personal note. Today my brave Brexiteer Brother-in-law announced he is applying for a Maltese passport as he was born there. The hypocrisy of the Brexi’s and Lexi’s is a wonder to behold; and they wonder why they are held in such disdain.

  • Geoffrey Dron 17th Aug '19 - 8:55pm

    You want to see a GNU. Go to the zoo.

    You won’t see one in Westminster.

  • @Geoffrey Dron

    lol, that is the funniest this I have read all week, thank you

  • Helen Dudden 17th Aug '19 - 9:24pm

    This afternoon in Bath, I listened as comments made to your party members dressed in their EU costume were at times very heated.
    If Corbyn gets into number 10, you have achieved what you have worked for. You will get that vote you so badly want.
    But there was one comment by a man and his partner, but we thought it was our democratic vote, that said out! Yes I said it was, but that’s another story, under the heading of democracy?

  • Jo Swinson has thrown a wrench in the works by challenging Corbyn to prove he’s got the numbers, but can she show the votes for either of her suggested alternatives: K Clarke or H Harman?

    What’s she doing to prove there lies a viable alternative? Names? If she has them (minus just Labour ) her pitch to Corbyn to stand aside would be far more compelling.

    The end result of this silly debate over who gets to be ‘caretaker’ PM , is likely going to be Swinson pondering her tactics in a newly independent Scotland. For many are torn, sure, they’ll help to try to prevent no-deal. But be in no doubt, if these efforts do fail, attention and effort will turn to winning independence.

  • Jo Swinson should double down now and call out Corbyn for not putting the country first. She should say his recklessness risks a damaging no deal Brexit and that he is arrogant if he believes he is the only person who can do the job. She should call on the country to turn their back on such an inward looking LITTLE man and see how he reacts. Something tells me I hisnwould flip the argument in her favour.

  • Geoffrey Dron 18th Aug '19 - 12:24am

    To get a GNU, needs a successful VONC against the current government.

    Getting even three Tory names to support the motion would be a major difficulty, but clearing that hurdle on paper still isn’t enough. There are also the ten MPs who were elected in 2017 under Labour colours, but who have since quit because they believe that Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to be Prime Minister. This is due to what they see as, at best, toleration of anti-Semitism in the Labour ranks and a collection of political views that are dangerous to the country. Then there is Sylvia Hermon, an independent Unionist MP who opposes the Conservative party but has vowed never to make Corbyn Prime Minister due to his historical ties to the Republican movement. So to cancel out their votes you need not three Conservative MPs, but fourteen. There is no chance of attracting anything like that many Conservative rebels.

  • The Lib Dems need a crash course in rational bargaining.

    The Corbynites on the Left, the Tory rebels on the Right, and the Lib Dems etcetera in between, share a common objective, whch ought to be overriding – Avoiding the national calamity of No Deal Brexit. It should be readily achievable, since a clear majority of MPs oppose NDB.

    The problem is that the Labour Party, by far the strongest parliamentary force opposing NDB, want to take the lead. But the rebel Tories would ideally prefer to deny Labour any role at all.

    Mr Corbyn has made the opening bid in a negotiation with his potential temporary allies. For an opening bid, it’s not bad. Since Labour could immediately be VONCed should they break their promise of a “strictly time-limited” government, they can be trusted, in the sense that you can trust anyone if you are dangling them by the feet from a tenth-floor balcony.

    Mr Grieve and friends have also made their opening bid. They will work with Labour, but won’t let Corbyn be PM. That too is a reasonable opener.

    What the Lib Dems should be doing urging both sides to find a compromise, and threatening that if neither can compromise in the greater interest of avoiding NDB, then the Lib Dems will hoover up all the Remainer votes. Vince Cable, by asking Labour for a Plan B, is adopting a good negotiating strategy. It puts Corbyn on the spot, something Swinson has not yet achieved. If Corbyn is too intransigent to make any constructive response, he will deserve blame for failure. So this approach could force him to compromise – and then we could be in business.

    Even temporary Government will need Ministers. Would Grieve and friends accept a majority of Labour Ministers, as long as the PM was non-Labour? Would Corbyn settle for Plan B, provided he was first allowed to seek a majority for his Plan A? We’re getting closer to a viable compromise, aren’t we? Well, that’s when Lib Dems should urge both sides to go the final mile and meet in the middle – Which would earn praise for being constructive.

    Sadly, we haven’t done that. By making the Tory rebel case faster than they did themselves, we have bolstered an intransigent “no truck with Corbyn” approach. By unceremoniously slapping down Corbyn instead of pressuring him to move further, we have likewise encouraged the most anti-Lib Dem forces within Labour to say “look Jeremy, we were right – We cannot work with the Lib Dems!”

    Can we bring Vince back?

  • Matt,

    I agree the formation of a Government of National Unity is hugely difficult. The easier solution would be a Labour minority government which Jeremy Corbyn has suggested. For any new government to be formed it needs 320 MPs to vote for it (I have excluded the Speaker, the deputy Speakers (one Tory, two Labour) and the seven Sinn Fein, total 11).

    If all the non-Conservative MPs excluding the MP for Sheffield Hallam voted for the new government they only number 318 and so at least two Conservative MPs have to vote for it, or three have to abstain. If 13 Independents and the 5 IDC abstain then the number is reduced to 300 and eleven Conservative MPs have to vote for it, or 21 abstain.

    A Government of National Unity I think can only be formed if the Labour Party support it. I think the number of Labour MPs who would not vote for a GONU unless the Labour Party supported it number close to 150 and the number of Conservative MPs who would not support it is over 160. Together with the DUP they would number over 320.

    There is also the problem of what a GONU would want – a general election or referendum? If a referendum could Labour support one on May’s deal vs Remain or would they want the opportunity to negotiate a Labour deal.

  • A Government of National Salvation is needed to prevent a no deal Brexit and the damage to the economy and people’s livelihoods. It should seek an extension from the EU and a new referendum. Buggins’ turn will not do it.

  • We have had National Governments and Coalition Governments before. They all resulted in a catastrophe for the Liberals which took years or decades to recover. We should not touch this just for a short term boost. The party is about more than the EU.

  • John Bicknell 18th Aug '19 - 9:34am

    Time has proved Jo Swinson correct, in her analysis of the weakness of Jeremy Corbyn’s offer, given the statements by Dominic Grieve, Caroline Spelman, Oliver Letwin, and a number of independents. Unfortunately, by jumping the gun, and presuming this, she is perceived as the wrecker of a potential alliance. Had she waited until these views had become clear, she could have made her suggestion, in all reasonableness, that Mr Corbyn should step aside in favour of a less divisive figure. The onus would have been on him to justify why it had to be him or nobody, and why getting his hands on the keys to No.10 was more important than stopping a no-deal Brexit. Some may feel that this would have seemed like following events, rather than shaping them, but I still think that the tone and timing of her initial comments were slightly misjudged.

  • @Michael BG

    I don’t believe any gnu that proposes another referendum will get off the ground and secure enough votes, there just isnt the numbers for it, there is to much fear from MP’s on both sides of the house on what would happen to them at the following election.

    I think there is a good chance that Boris will lose a vote of no confidence as some Tory Rebels will want to register their protest, however,
    in the following 14 days, i think a gnu will fail to materialise for reasons I have set out before.
    As far as I am aware, the rules are a vote of no confidence in the current “administration” not in Boris Johnson, there is nothing stopping Boris Johnson in that 14 days winning a vote of confidence and I suspect that Tory Mp’s will then vote that they have confidence, they would have registered their protest in the first vote and held their noses in the 2nd with the ability to say that they could not support a Corbyn administration or Labour administration of any hue. And the reason they will vote for it, is because they do not want to face an election
    Can you imagine a Tory facing a general election if say there were only 2 or 3 of them that were responsible for bringing their party and government down, it would be political suicide for them and say what you will about putting country before party, when the hard facts of reality come into play and someones career is on the line…..They can say they chose not defy the party as they felt that they could do more within parliament rather than lose their seat at a general election.

    From what I am reading and understanding, the only hope for remainers is to pass some legislation forcing Johnson to seek an extension, but even that seems thwart with difficulty, due to the lack of bills scheduled (apart from Northern Island)

    I suspect we will see conference season cancelled, which may not be a bad thing as it will put a stop the the absured LD policy motion about ending mandatory sentences for the possession of knives and corrosive substances’.

  • Matt,
    You do realise that when you get your hard Brdxit we will get rapidly poorer and when you demand more money for health it won’t be there. You’ll also find that their will be little appetite to help the Brexiteers who will be painted as the authors of their own misfortunes. We will be in a position of the deserving and undeserving poor and as a Brexiteer you’ll definitely be in the undeserving camp.

  • I’m still interested in how a GNU led by Ken Clarke is going to get a second referendum when he doesn’t support one…

  • Paul Bennett 18th Aug '19 - 10:14pm

    “Corbyn as Prime Minister”! Even the phrase gives me conflicting feelings; hilarity, nausea, fear, disbelief. One feeling it doesn’t give me is hope. Of course Corbyn’s ‘offer’ was meant to be divisive; he is, after all, an unreconstructed anti-European, (for reasons probably only known to himself – perhaps European Unity conflicts with the International Socialism project, or some other theoretical casuistry).

    Corbyn’s purpose seems – transparently, in my view – to be to disrupt the Remain camp, while appearing – to his acolytes, many of who will follow him like a messiah – to be offering a solution to the current impasse. That it’s unachievable is irrelevant, and contrary to the purpose, as I see it. However, you have to give him credit for successfully holding – or at least, being praised by his widely disparate acolytes for holding – two contradictory views at the same time.

    Jo Swinson and others have seen through this, and so are vilified for being ‘obstructive’, but it’s a measure of Corbyn’s dexterity at manipulating people that so many have fallen for it. This is undoubtedly a very sneaky character, and any ‘promise’ to be a ‘temporary caretaker’ should be taken with the annual output of Northwich, Middlewich, Nantwich and Winsford combined. Once this man gets his feet on the Downing Street carpet, even burning his slippers won’t get him out.

  • Matt,

    Having a referendum puts back when a general election will be held. I think it is unlikely that the next general election will be in June 2022. I think it will be earlier.

    If any Conservative MPs voted in favour of a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government I can’t see them voting in favour of confidence in it within 14 days.

    As I have stated I think a vote of no confidence has to be held by 12th September and then there could be a general election on 24th October.

    The interesting question is would Conservative MPs vote no confidence in Johnson’s government if they thought a general election would be held in October. If the answer is no, then there has to be an alternative government which can be formed after a vote of no confidence.

    If Parliament passed legislation to extend Article 50, I wonder if Boris Johnson would carry out the instruction. A date for when he would have to do it by would need to be included so a vote of confidence could be held if he didn’t comply.

  • Geoffrey Dron 19th Aug '19 - 8:07pm

    Corbyn has spent a lifetime making friends with some of the most extreme individuals and regimes on the planet while spurning the company of moderate democrats from across the UK political spectrum. And now, because it happens to suit his personal agenda and ambition, everyone must now adopt the frame of mind he has explicitly rejected for most of his life.

    The very notion of an anti-Brexit coalition is a profoundly undemocratic one. But the idea that this staunch friend of Hamas, the IRA, Putin, Iran and Maduro could emerge as the British prime minister on the back of parties he genuinely holds in contempt is surely the sickest joke of a very sick year so far.

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