Opposition parties launched rival campaigns to topple Prime Minister Boris Johnson and stop him taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal, illustrating fractures in the anti-Brexit movement that make neither scheme likely to succeed.
Johnson has promised to push through Brexit by Oct. 31, with or without a deal, setting the scene for a showdown in parliament where a majority of lawmakers are opposed to an EU divorce without a transition agreement.
With parliament the main obstacle to Johnson’s “do or die” pledge, lawmakers are urgently seeking a way to remove him or change the law to delay Brexit.
Jeremy Corbyn, the veteran socialist leader of the Labour Party, said lawmakers should support a vote of no confidence and back him to lead a “strictly time-limited temporary government” that would postpone Brexit and hold an election.
“This government has no mandate for No Deal, and the 2016 EU referendum provided no mandate for No Deal,” Corbyn said. “I therefore intend to table a vote of no confidence at the earliest opportunity when we can be confident of success.”
A handful of lawmakers from Johnson’s own Conservative Party said they would listen to Corbyn’s proposals.
“A short-term Jeremy Corbyn government is less damaging than the generational damage that would be caused by a no-deal Brexit,” Conservative lawmaker Guto Bebb told the BBC.
The leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, said her party and its 35 lawmakers would explore any option to stop Brexit in parliament and did not rule out backing Corbyn.
However, his chances of success were crippled by the leader of the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrat party, Jo Swinson, who said Corbyn was not the right figurehead for an emergency government.
“We are facing a national crisis. We may need an emergency government to resolve it but if Jeremy Corbyn truly wants that to succeed, surely even he can see, he cannot lead it,” she said.
Swinson’s rival idea for a senior parliamentarian to lead a national unity government is unlikely to be accepted by Corbyn.