WATCH: Jo Swinson’s keynote speech on how MPs can stop Boris

Stopping Boris Johnson inflicting a disastrous no deal Brexit on the country was the focus of Jo Swinson’s first big keynote speech since becoming Lib Dem leader.

She talked about two possible things that MPs could do to prevent us falling over the abyss.

Her preferred option would be for them to pass legislation requesting an extension to Article 50 and going for a People’s Vote.

Alternatively, Lib Dems would support a vote of no confidence called by Labour, and would look to support an emergency government which would stop no deal. She said that there is no way that the Commons would back Jeremy Corbyn to be PM and said that an emergency government should be led by someone who commanded the respect of both sides of the House – someone like Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman. She called on MPs to stand up and be counted and do everything possible to stop no deal.

She made clear that the Lib Dems wanted to stop Brexit completely – the best deal for peace, prosperity and security was what we already have in the EU.

It was a confident speech for Jo. She is such a contrast to the arrogant bluster of the Prime Minister and the tired, unconvincing interventions of Jeremy Corbyn. She comes across as grown-up, engaging, collaborative and wise. And she takes her #joinJo slogan from her leadership  campaign and turns it into a national call to get behind her.

Watch Jo’s whole speech here:

After her speech, Jo said:

People are fed up of seeing politicians arguing for things that put their party’s interest above the country. Today I have set out a way forward that will stop us crashing out of Europe with no-deal as Boris Johnson is threatening us with. He has no mandate for it, no public support and Parliament will not allow him to push it forward.

“Liberal Democrats are the strongest remain party and we are fighting to stop Brexit. We will not stand back and allow the threat of a no-deal Brexit to continue to damage our economy and risk people’s futures. That is why I have made several suggestions of a way forward – from amending legislation that already exists, to new laws, or an emergency government which is led by the two most experienced MPs in the House of Commons.

“I will continue to talk to, and work with, MPs across all parties and none to stop Brexit.”

If you like what you see from Jo, why not join her and 130,000 others?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Jo and her childish games are going to be directly responsible for Brexit.

    Tory rebels are meeting Corbyn, understanding the reality of this situation, and she’s messing around playing games.

  • Note that her speech starts 10 minutes in

  • Grown up and engaging? She called Jeremy Corbyn’s quite reasonable proposal to stop a no-deal Brexit nonsense.

    She comes across as tribal, uncompromising and inconsistant given she said the following about Tom Watson two days ago: “Tom and I have disagreed on a lot of things over the years but on Brexit, we’re united. Working with other parties is the only way to stop Boris, and stop Brexit”.

  • Her main priority seems to be more about stopping a temporary Corbyn-led initiative, than stopping Brexit?

    At least she’ll have plenty of time on her hands to ponder her choices in an independent Scotland.

  • Swinson tries to present the rebel Tories as an excuse for calling the Corbyn plan “nonsense”, but Grieve has shown that up as purely destructive posturing, by himself agreeing to talk to Corbyn. Not a good start for Swinson.

    A better response to Corbyn would have been “Thank you for proposing a constructive plan, which might help us find a basis for an emergency government that will remove the appalling threat of No Deal Brexit. However, given that you propose a very short-term caretaker government, which would have only one key task to undertake, why do you suppose that you are the only person who could lead such a government? Why can you not agree to support someone else, who would command wider confidence amongst all parties, to lead the emergency government, and to achieve aims which we all share?”

    The reality is that Corbyn, as the “slowest ship in the convoy”, MUST largely “set the pace”. Nothing else is practicable.

    That does not mean that Corbyn can get away with total intransigence. There comes a point when that would look sufficiently ridiculous to demonstrate to the public that, if No Deal Brexit is not stopped, Corbyn deserves a big share of the blame.

    Corbyn might, for example, be persuaded to let someone like Harriet Harman lead the emergency government, provided that its programme (an extension and then an election) was determined by Labour and seen to be determined by Labour. Or, possibly Corbyn might be persuaded to allow a multi-party group to set out the emergency government programme, provided that he became the emergency PM. It could be put to him that, if he was unwilling to concede either of these approaches, his intransigence could be vilified and indeed his Labour leadership role placed at immediate risk.

    Sadly, the Lib Dems don’t yet seem to be capable of boxing that clever. Let’s hope Dominic Grieve can do better.

  • Andrew Melmoth 15th Aug '19 - 12:07pm

    Is Jo Swinson a Dominic Cummings sleeper agent? If you can’t join the SNP, Plaid, and the Greens in supporting Corbyn to stop no deal and hold a second referendum then you will go down in history as the co-authors, together with Johnson and the ERG, of a no deal Brexit.

  • Theres an interesting piece in The New Statesman by Stephen Bush on this. The Title is – ”
    Corbyns Letter turns the Tables on Swinson.” Labour still see Us as the Main Enemy, they are still playing games.
    The point is that we no longer have Time to keep trying things that we know will probably Fail. We aren’t the problem here, the problem is that enough Tory Rebels won’t Vote for Corbyn as PM, however Temporarary he is supposed to be. The response from some Tory MPs that they are willing to talk to Corbyn tells us nothing, everyone is talking to everyone else.
    No Labour Leader could be Neutral in a Government formed to call an Election but Corbyn is a divisive figure on top of that. Half his own Voters dont want him as PM.
    Jo is one of our biggest assets, She is popular among the minority who have heard of her, we need to make sure that more Voters know who she is.

  • Richard MacKinnon 15th Aug '19 - 12:10pm

    I support no party but I follow the Brexit story and see the dangers.
    Jo Swinson is playing petty party politics of the worst kind. She says she will do anything to stop No Deal and will work with all parties. But singles out one person that she cannot work with that would prevent cooperation. What a piece of work.

  • William Fowler 15th Aug '19 - 12:10pm

    Normally, would not want to see Labour anywhere near power but given that they can be taken down with a confidence vote at any time, thus forcing them to stick to dealing with Brexit and nothing else, then the compromise would be to have a referendum followed by a GE, the former can probably be done in 3-4 months if there is a will. Alternatively, the LibDems can support Boris if he agrees to a referendum (unlikely) followed by a GE. Aiming to destroy the Conservative party will result in the Brexit Party coming to the fore, so careful what you wish for.

  • Imagine how much the pressure on Swinson and co will intensify if the EU endorses Corbyn’s proposal?

  • Surely she can both ‘dislike the man while supporting the plan’ ?

    It was Clegg who said to opponents of AV (those holding out for LD preferred STV PR) and to opponents of half-baked Lords reform, “Don’t make perfect the enemy of good’.

    That’s exactly what Jo is doing here, by being unwilling to compromise, brittle. Does she realise the seriousness of the situation?

  • I think Jo Swinson has boxed herself badly into a corner here. The longer talks go on between Grieve and Co and Labour the worse it is going to look for her and the party. Changing position and agreeing to talk to Corbyn will look bad, but it will also look worse the longer it takes to get to the point of changing position.

    If Grieve and Co can’t come to an understanding with Labour there’s some recovery. If they do, then that’s going to look as if the Lib Dems are risking no deal because they’re concerned that rather than prove himself incompetent as a caretaker PM, Corbyn might actually be up to the job, and that the Lib Dems are willing to risk no deal than allow for a Labour advantage in the inevitable autumn General Election.

  • David Becket 15th Aug '19 - 12:58pm

    Whilst much of this was a good speech Jo needs to be more realistic about Corbyn. This is not the time to lay down red lines. If the only way to get what Lib Dems and others want is to accept Corbyn as temporary PM then we will have to accept that, or go down as causing No Deal Brexit. We must ensure that he acts as a temporary PM with one objective. The cabinet must not be packed out with his cronies, he does not chose the cabinet, representatives of the Remain groups do that. His position as PM must be time limited.
    Come on Jo, you have made a good start, don’t wreck it. You are prepared to do anything to stop Brexit (your words) and if the only option is Corbyn as temporary PM you must help to make that work.

  • Jo Swinson has ‘painted herself into a corner’ by her kneejerk resjection of Corbyn’s offer of talks.
    Maybe too few Tories will agree to even speak to Corbyn but then the blame for a ‘no-deal Brexit’ will lie with them.
    This issue is above party politics and Corbyn, as leader of a party with 247 seats, is the obvious choice; how would this party feel if the roles were reversed and Labour refused to talk to Swinson (actually we do know from comments on another thread).

    Sadly, politicians, of any stripe. rarely admit they were wrong; I just hope Jo is ‘big enough’ to reconsider.

  • The Corbyn as PM thing is an utter red herring. All the unity movement needs to exist for is:
    (i) win VONC
    (ii) seek extension from the EU
    (iii) win vote to hold GE (or collapse itself to force one)

    Assuming they reach out to the EU now, you need what, a month to achieve that? Probably less if you can get the EU to call an emergency summit?

    You don’t even need to form a cabinet, do you? Just do what you’d do if Parliament was prorogued and maintain the status quo. No new policy decisions need to be made. Let the Civil Service keep things ticking over. These are all the conditions Swinson should be setting. Play the ball, not the man.

    If you can’t support a handcuffed Corbyn if it’s the only way to stop No Deal, you don’t really want to stop No Deal.

  • Matthew Sparks 15th Aug '19 - 1:26pm

    My despair at Jo’s dismissive response to Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal prompts my first post to this site.
    Her outright rejection completely contradicts her claim that she will talk to anyone to stop Brexit. Her dismissal of the idea of a Corbyn-led caretaker government because Tories won’t support it looks ill-informed when several Tory rebels have agreed to talk to him, as well as nearly all the other opposition parties. Her use of the phrase ‘a nonsense’ for Corbyn as a caretaker PM is disrespectful of a fellow MP who, like it or not, she must talk to if there is to be any chance of getting together a majority to stop Brexit, and is hardly likely to make Labour MPs sympathetic to her own proposals.
    Being so rigid and unco-operative risks bringing on a no-deal Brexit, the very thing she claims she wants to stop. If that happened as a result of Lib Dem stubbornness, it would be a disaster for the country. Less importantly, but quite rightly, it would also be a disaster for the Lib Dems.
    I had hoped for better when I voted for Jo in the leadership election. I do hope she will amend her position now, and demonstrate that she really can put national interest before (very) short term party advantage, even if that entails some temporary loss of face.

  • Jo should be careful to ensure that she is open to talks with anyone about ways to stop a no deal Brexit.

    She won’t be forgiven for playing party political games with our future.

    The essential point is to focus in on the need for a ‘caretaker PM’ to be just that, which should rule out anyone with a stake in being the PM after the ensuing election.

  • Jo is outspoken and needs to be, such a contrast to wishy washy Corbyn. The caretaker could be Ken Clarke, John Major, Keir Starmer, anyone but Corbyn who is a known Brexiteer. Sure he concedes now, under duress from his party, that he would have option to remain on the ballot paper, but you can bet he would campaign against it and in favour of his own unicorn Brexit. Besides which entering any kind of pact with the devil is very risky for the Lib Dems, stained already by a previous coalition – Lib dems owe their credibility and success to sticking to their principles

  • I think there’s a message problem here. Corbyn is proposing three things: 1. a VONC; 2. a temporary government of national unity to stop No Deal; and 3. himself as head of that govt. In her response, Jo has actually said YES to 1 and 2. It’s just 3 she has a problem with. Yet the media narrative is that she has rejected his whole proposal. This is inaccurate, but it is becoming the story and it does indeed make us look inflexible and bad. She needs to be clearer about the 2 YESes in her response, instead of making it sound like one big NO.

  • I do not wish to see Corbyn as prime minister either particularly, coming from a life long Labour Voter.
    I do however have a question for Liberal Democrats.
    Swinson is saying she will not support Corbyn as “temporary prime minister”
    What will she / Libdems do after the results of a General Election which is more than likely going to lead to a coalition government.
    Will she refuse to go into coalition with Labour?
    What if by some sheer stroke of luck, the Liberal Democrats became the largest party and yet needed the support of Labour to form a coalition government?
    Would she still refuse to work with Corbyn if it made her prime minister?

    Surly the risks Swinson is playing here is going to give Labour the soundbite, Vote Liberal Democrat, end up with another Tory Government.
    Seems to me that Swinson is playing a very dangerous game here that is going to blow up spectacularly in her face.

    Interesting times indeed

  • Exactly Matt. The Lib Dems are supposed to be the party of compromise.

  • @Matthew Sparks.


    An even more appalling prospect, would be Johnson and the ERG getting their way(no-deal) solely thanks to the LDs withholding their support for some temporary alternative arrangement.

    Corbyn isn’t the devil incarnate, well, unless your only sources of information are the Sun, certain Blairites and the Daily Mail.

  • Roger Billins 15th Aug '19 - 2:09pm

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

    The Corbyn letter is a difficult one. There is no doubt that many of our new members are former Conservative voters to whom Corbyn is an anethema but, on the other hand, to reject the offer out of hand makes us look silly and unwilling to work with others, particularly as Tory remainers are at least prepared to consider it. A more considered approach and a willingness to meet Corbyn would have been better.

  • Barry Lofty 15th Aug '19 - 2:32pm

    Well said Jo, you will never please everybody and why should the Lib Dems fall in line with Jeremy Corbyn ,s sudden conversion to the Brexit cause, would it be because he is a chancer like Boris Johnson? I want to stop Brexit as much as anyone
    but there has to be a better way than putting faith in a leader who up until now has shown a total lack of interest or care about leaving the EU with or without a deal. Anyone remember what some members said about us going into coalition with the Tories!?

  • I hear Tory MPs Dominic Grieve, Caroline Spelman and Oliver Letwin, plus the former Conservative Nick Boles, say they would be willing to enter talks with Mr Corbyn in the weeks before parliament returns from recess.

    Jo needs to be careful she’s not the bride left behind waiting at the alter.

  • “It’s arguable that the UK cannot leave the EU during an election campaign anyway, because it would be unconstitutional”
    I am not sure how it is unconstitutional. Parliament Voted for a referendum, Government triggered article 50 process, it was written into Law that we would be leaving on 31st October. It would not be unconstitutional at all if we were to leave during an election campaign when its already been legislated for. It is only unconstitutional to announce / introduce “new policies” “legislature” during a campaign.

    The way I see it.
    If Corbyn calls a Vote of no confidence and yet a new unity government fails to take hold and we go straight into a new election, that will be held after 31st October AFTER we have exited the EU. Boris will probably win the election anyway as he will be able to go into the campaign fighting the undemocratic Labour and LD’s who are trying to thwart the will of the people and democracy
    Corbyn will not call a Vote of No confidence unless he is sure it will have LD Support as the numbers will not be there and Corbyn will refuse to stand aside for another Labour MP to head the unity Government and why should he as leader of the opposition?
    It would be like Liberal Democrats winning an election and needing Labour or SNP support and being told only if you make Lord Rennard Prime Minister as we are not having swinson.

    This saga is a bit like a suspense thriller, I cant wait for parliament to return and Brexit cant come soon enough

  • Lorenzo Cherin 15th Aug '19 - 3:41pm

    A speech like this makes this campaigner, voter, for Jo, know why I supported her and shall, yes she is younger, fresher, but she today looks like and sounds like a leader and a leader who could be PM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This party is not as gifted as it thinks, at being measured, it likes to preach radicalism more.

    Corbyn proposes a plan to make him pm.

    He does not get support from the leader of the other opposition party, led by a woman with no history of supporting movements and with a record supporting movements many find extremist. With the Labour party being investigated for actual mistreatment of its Jewish membership and an abysmal lack of effort on antisemitism, I see here, in the initial sensible comments by our leader, the understanding that Corbyn could not get the support needed for what might be called, a National govt.

    She recognises she could not lead this either. Rayner calls her childish. I call pitching to get your own leader default pm far more.

    I call a leader pitching for elders to be pm rather than her, leadership.

  • Nick Collins 15th Aug '19 - 3:47pm

    I agree with Jenny Barnes and David Raw. The only person who can move a vote of no confidence in Johnson is Corbyn.. What does Jo Swinson propose to do when he does so? To use her own phrase, “it’s a nonsense” to expect him to do so (or ,worse, to abstain or vote with the Government if he does so) while ruling him out of the next move should such a motion succeed.

    Having attained the title of “Leader”, it’s time for her to put aside her childish posturing and begin to show some leadership

  • @David Raw
    I hope Jo has some wise counsel around her. Reading JC’s letter, it seems like a good offer to me. The biggest problem with a neutral leader to this GNU is whether they can carry Leave Labour MP’s. On balance I think you will need JC to keep Labour corralled. Time to get real. One thing with Labour is that they know how to count.

  • Sp. altar. blinking predictive text.

  • Give Corbyn the keys to power, and he’ll change the lock.

    Jo is absolutely correct to keep him (or, more importantly the Marxists pulling his strings) away from No. 10.

  • The Telegraph headline states: “Caretaker Corbyn’ plan rejected by Liberal Democrats will be discussed by Tory rebels”.

    Does Jo have any idea how ridiculous the party will look if Corbyn pulls this off(or gets very close) without the Lib Dems, who are doing their best to make avoiding no-deal difficult? Layla Moran seems more attuned to the dangers for the Lib Dems here. Jo, by allowing bitter Chuka to call the shots risks being frozen out.

  • Without wishing to repeat many of the cogent arguments already made by others (David Allen, David Beckett, expats, Dan M-B, Matthew Sparks, Roger Billins, David Raw, etc), I echo those who feel that a more carefully considered response to Corbyn’s “offer”, rather than outright rejection, would have have been appropriate, given the national emergency that we face.

    Like it or not, we need to recognise the stark reality of the current parliamentary arithmetic – this dictates that there is no credible route to stop a no deal Brexit by 31 October without the cooperation of the official opposition (Labour) and its elected leader (Corbyn). Jo should therefore, at least, demonstrate her willingness to engage in meaningful talks with the Labour front bench – together with the other opposition party leaders in the H of C (SNP, Plaid Cymru, Change UK, Green, etc), plus key independent and rebel Tory MPs.

  • @Sean Hagen.

    Indeed. It’s time to be party and personality agnostic in the national interest. Time to see the bigger picture.

    Brexit could be a generational mess and history will judge those who wouldn’t work with Corbyn for two-weeks very harshly indeed. The Lib Dems are in a good polling place right now. An election with remain still as a viable option gives every chance of improving the LD tally of MPs. If johnson gets his no-deal, the Lib Dems could have to go to the country in Nov-Dec with Brexit already settled.

  • Paul Barker 15th Aug '19 - 5:01pm

    Jo is one our best assets, one reason that Rival Parties are attacking her. Her & Our biggest problem is that only 1 in 3 Voters know who she is, according to the most recent Polling. Normally, third Party Leaders take Years to get the Voters to recognise them; we haven’t got Years, we could be facing an Election in Months.
    That Labour & its coterie of pet “Journalists” & “Opinion Formers” are putting so much work into attacking Jo is Good News for Us. It shows that they are afraid of Us & it gets more Voters asking “Who is this Jo Swinson ?”
    The more Voters find out who Jo is the more will turn to Us.

  • So Jo Swinson will back Harriet Harman for Leader rather than Corbyn! As the ‘Guardian’ says “Absurd”..
    The reason for such a personal insult to Corbyn is difficult to understand. If you want to alienate the vast majority of 247 MPs a more calculated action would be difficult to find.

    If Johnson gets his no deal through then Swinson will get little support from Labour (and probably the SNP) in any future action.

    A better way of assisting not just a no deal Brexit, and scuppering any future remedial action, would be difficult to devise!

  • nigel hunter 15th Aug '19 - 5:39pm

    I believe she is thinking Right wing Johnson and Cummings (the ring leader) wants Brexit. Corbyn left wing ,the 2 extremes are not what the country wants. They need someone of the centre Harman, Clarke who are not extremists to sort out the Brexit mess to give calm intelligence to form a way out.

  • Paul Barker, I’m sure many people who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections for the first time are beginning to find out who this Jo Swinson is and they’re getting quite, you know, rather concerned given many of them voted to try and stop Brexit from happening.

  • But Nigel, we don’t need the unity administration to be led by someone to ‘sort out the Brexit mess to give calm intelligence to form a way out’, we only need it to extend Art 50 and then dissolve itself to enable a general election. The public can then elect a new government to decide the way out.

    The unity administration only has two jobs to do, it wont take long to achieve them, so who leads it is neither here nor there at the end of the day. This focus on Corbyn plays directly into Johnson’s hands.

    The *only* thing that matters right now is avoiding this 31 Oct deadline.

  • @ Paul Barker – that’s all very well, but sounds incredibly tribalistic given that we are facing an imminent national crisis (no deal Brexit on 31 October). Due to the current parliamentary arithmetic, this demands an urgent cross-party solution, not partisan posturing for political advantage in a future election. Our leader and MPs must therefore rise to this challenge – and demonstrate their willingness to constructively engage in meaningful discussions with others, including Corbyn and his front bench, to explore the viability of alternative ways forward. This does not necessarily require acceptance of his proposed “caretaker” government (there are still too many unanswered questions which he needs to clarify), but any outright rejection simply sounds churlish.

  • I think Jo should pivot and just accept a caretaker Corbyn government. We should also state we think there is a high chance this will fail and that if it does Labour will be as guilty as the Tories in facilitating a no deal Brexit having not heeded Lib Dem warnings.

    This turns it into a win win for us. If he suceeds then we have a GE and Brexit extension. If he fails we can pin some of the blame on Labour. A position they may not then recover from.

  • I assume Jo made this speech today, and if so it was a tactical error. She would have known that others parties and Dominic Grieve had said they would talk about Corbyn’s proposal. She should have said the same while pointing out the difficulties of him being supported. One of the issues is how to get a general election once Corbyn is PM and if more than 100 Conservative MPs would support one.

    I am not sure Ken Clarke is a suitable PM as he doesn’t support another referendum. Harriet Harman is suitable because she does.

  • I’m afraid Jo Swinson has boxed herself in to a very badly judged premature decision which might just burst the current Lib Dem bubble.

    @ Lorenzo Cherin, Unlike you, I’ve a lot of time and respect for Angela Rayner.

    She has real life experience having had to battle through to take a degree and become a social worker (and learning signing skills) after she was a young 16 year old single mother. She’s also endured some pretty awful abuse and threats, particularly after the Jo Cox tragedy and the very last thing she is is childish.

  • I dont get it. I know many Labour members who are prepared to give the Lib Dems a new start, particularly to prevent a no deal. Yet at the first sign of movement the Lib Dem leader seems determined to stomp on a proposal that at the very least is worth discussing. The very thing that Ive seen Lib Dem members here moan about for many many years – the tribalism of British politics, is alive and well in their leader.

  • Simon Horner 15th Aug '19 - 9:54pm

    Jo Swinson could perhaps have been more emollient in her reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal but I think her basic analysis is spot on. A vote of confidence against the Johnson government might well be won but even if the LibDems get behind the caretaker Corbyn proposal, it is very unlikely to attract a majority in the Commons.

    The key question I think is whether, having rejected both Johnson and Corbyn, will the Commons get another bite at the cherry allowing someone like Harriet Harman to assemble the necessary majority – and can this be done before 31 October. If the answers to these questions in “no” (which is what I suspect) then the responsibility for a no deal Brexit can certainly not be laid at Jo Swinson’s door.

    Far from being “childish”, her proposal seems to be the only one that has the slightest chance of actually working.

  • I think Jo has played her hand badly here. Of course Corbyn is playing politics, but Jo walked right into the trap he set, and the optics are terrible.

    For the plan to work it needs broad Labour support, plus a significant number of Tory rebels, and it’s unlikely that Corbyn can manage the latter. However he should have been given the chance to try and fail.

    A better response would have been:

    1) Put a date on the time limit.
    2) Lib Dems will support you if you can show you can gather support from enough Tory rebels.
    3) We will give you 2 weeks to bring Tory rebels on side, and if you fail we expect you to stand aside for an alternative PM.

    This would have put the pressure back on Cornyn to prove he can make it work. Instead, Jo has given the hard left more ammunition to blame the Lib Dems and trot out the usual lines that we only ever support the Tories.

  • The point is that a caretaker PM needs some very special attributes. He/she has to command a degree of respect right across the commons. That eliminates most people right away. The only ones who might carry it off are elder statespeople like Clarke or Harman (Major also comes to mind) who have been around a long time and can stand above the fray. Corbyn needs to be big enough to delegate the role, which would otherwise fall naturally to him, to someone else for the good of the country. In doing so, he would gain a lot more respect for himself.

  • There is only 14 days from the point of losing a vote of no confidence for a new government to be formed and win a vote of confidence in the house or a general election has to take place

    Assuming Boris has the right to try and win that confidence vote before his administration is dissolved, Corbyn as the leader of her majesty official opposition will want the opportunity to form a new administration and now the Libdems proposals for a national unity Government lead by Harriet Harmen or Ken Clarke.
    That’s 3 different sets of talks and negotiations taking place to see who can form a government.
    Imagine the toeing and throwing of, well he’s offering this, she is offering that, they are offering this and the amount of playing one set of negotiators over the other…

    Its easy to sit here and say, well this National Unity Government is only going to be about Extending article 50 and then calling for a new general election, but in reality that will never be the case, there will be parties saying, well we will support this, but in return we want x y z should another coalition be viable after the GE.

    We are already seeing this manoeuvring within Labour and the SNP with Labour saying that they will not standing in the way of another independence vote.

    If opposition parties cannot agree on who will lead this “unity government” before parliament returns from recess, then it is never going to happen.

    I am an arch Brexiter and even I can see the total chaos within the “remain opposition” parties and how they are going to fluff this

  • Paul Griffiths 15th Aug '19 - 10:16pm

    Support for a Conservative-led government nearly killed this party stone dead. I can well understand if Jo worries that support for a Labour-led government might finish us off for good. Is being concerned about the future of the party you lead “tribal”? I should bloody well hope so.

  • As David Lammy says:

    ‘you can work with the Tories for five years (austerity, NHS reorganisation, tuition fees, bedroom tax, getting turned over on the AV referendum etc) but you can’t work with Jeremy Corbyn for five weeks to stop No Deal’

    Apart from the little matter of a national emergency, you can kiss your Remain bounce goodbye if you carry on like this!

  • I broadly agree with the more nuanced approach outlined by Nick Baird at 9.54pm. In addition, however, we should be pressing Corbyn to clarify exactly when he proposes that a referendum should be held – and on what terms – and why this could not be sequenced before a General Election.

    It would also have been sensible for Jo to have consulted other opposition party leaders/MPs – particularly those with whom Lib Dems are discussing potential ‘Unite to Remain’ electoral pacts – before giving her speech this morning, in order that a properly coordinated joint response to Corbyn’s proposal could have been agreed.

  • Some interesting strategies.

    I have the feeling Boris is playing chess and the Lib Dems are playing draughts.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Aug '19 - 12:04am

    David Raw

    You presume as ever, but rarely engage or ask, re here, my respect for Angela Rayner.

    I respect her background, not her backhand, an insult to our leader , when it is her party leadership that is being more childish and tribal, trying to get their leader pm. She said the party we are members of do not decide who is leader of the Labour party, but Jo has no thought odd as it might be to Rayner of this, but of who could command support as a pm. You might think her not childish, her tit for tat was.

    Ruth Bright

    C4 interview was indeed supurb!

  • It has been said that, as a Remainer, Theresa May was doomed to fail from the start. If that is the case, it is reasonable to suppose that the corollary is also the case; as a life-long Leaver, Jeremy Corbyn is not set up to succeed in leading the resistance to Boris Johnson’s “Do or die” Brexiteers.

    Whilst it may be argued that Mr Corbyn was following a process that was set out very nearly a year ago at the Labour Party Conference, it has felt to me, as an onlooker, that he was dragged screaming to that point when he finally agreed to support another referendum.

    It is this lack of commitment that makes him unsuitable to lead a cross-party group. I fully support Jo’s suggestion that Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman would be appropriate candidates for this role.

  • Paul Griffiths 16th Aug '19 - 1:23am

    @ Peter Kenny
    The answer to David Lammy’s implied question is surely obvious. Coalition decimated the Lib Dems and reduced our poll ratings to single digits. Now Lammy wants us to do it again. No wonder Jo is not rushing to take up the offer.

  • Lorenzo Cherin, well he is the leader of the opposition and that’s the historical precident, what’s supposed to happen when a government is brought down in this way.

    It’s not ‘childish’ and ‘tribal’ to reach out to other parties, like the Labour Party is doing through Jeremy Corbyn’s intervention. If anything, Jo’s inital response was the most childish thing. But hey, people make mistakes when they’re learning the ropes.

    You also act like the Liberal Democrats are the ones holding 247 seats. There is a very real possibility there will be a Labour Party government led by Jeremy Corbyn after a general election is held.

  • Dilettante Eye 16th Aug '19 - 9:45am

    As matt above highlights very well, the 14 days after that VONC would be a frenzied and bordering on hysterical period, which frankly will be impossible to navigate politically.

    So the only conclusion to draw is that this is s a bogus offer by Corbyn designed purely (and cynically), for a (we tried but they let us down ~ damage limitation) for both him and the Labour party. An inexperienced Jo Swinson has shown (in spades), her gullibility by falling into this trap.

    I suppose the good news is that this ‘stunt’ indicates that the more rational Remainers are trying to work smart, on ways to move on and wash their hands of this ‘Brexit thing’, having conceded that Brexit is now inevitable. Sadly for the ‘headless chicken’ Remainers, adapting to that inevitable Brexit reality will probably take a little more time.

  • Richard MacKinnon 16th Aug '19 - 11:26am

    Matthew Sparks 15th Aug ’19 – 1:26pm,
    Well said.

    Goose 15th Aug ’19 – 2:09pm,
    Exactly. If Johnson delivers a No Deal Brexit because the opposition is hopelessly split Jo Swinson will be seen as the person to blame.

  • John Littler 17th Aug '19 - 6:04pm

    According to Tom Newton Dunn of the Murdoch papers, Swinson called it right and there would be nowhere near enough support in Parliament for Corbyn as temp. PM.
    Corbyn would get the first vote, would lose, then there would be another vote with a more centrist, inclusive figure, such as Clarke or Harman.
    This vote should be won and hard brexit could be stopped

  • John Littler 18th Aug '19 - 5:52pm

    Swinson was looked upon unsympathetically in the media over her instant dismissal of there idea that Corbyn could lead a National Unity Government, but she was correct about numbers.

    Corbyn said he should head a Government of National Unity because “he was Leader of the Opposition”. There lies part of the problem. For a Government of National Unity to have a chance it need to carry something outside of just Labour opposition.

    Corbyn has done opposition all of his life and cannot have sympathies with the side who have to be won over to make this work, which are Tory pro EU Rebels, with which he has nothing in common, not even a genuine pro EU position.

    The Tory rebels neither trust Corbyn on carrying out the brief function of dealing with the EU issue, nor on security issues. They believe he will start pulling stunts such as creating a budget and starting to spend money like water. They also believe they will never be forgiven for building Corbyn’s profile and standing with the public to make a real Corbyn led government more likely. Many Tories would lose friends over it too.

    As soon as Corbyn has had his vote and lost, another more centrist and acceptable figure would be proposed and probably, hopefully accepted and history will be made. It will then be up to Corbyn to decide whether to back it or to throw his toys out of his hard left pram.

  • Geoffrey Dron 20th Aug '19 - 7:53pm

    Jo’s stance is absolutely correct.

    A Corbyn PM-ship is a non-starter. The numbers aren’t there in the HoC for the necessary VoNC if Jezza is to be in no.10 even for a very limited period.

    Find someone the majority of MPs can unite around, not the arch-priest of divisiveness and a closet brexiter to boot.

  • David Walker 26th Aug '19 - 2:54pm

    When we do leave for sure on the 31st October. Lib Dems and the movement will be dead. At the moment it’s full of remainers “FACT”, because Labour have the worst leader in British History. Boris will sort this mess once and for all. Then the conservatives will stay in power for years to come, because that’s what it boils down to, a PM who will stand up for the UK and it’s values. All these other MP’s wanting some lime light even if there wrong or right about deal or no deal is disgraceful and undemocratic of them all.

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