Political

Chuka Umunna explains the Lib Dem position on votes of no confidence

This post, taken from Chuka Umunna’s Facebook page, will be of interest to many readers, I suspect:

I’ve read with some interest talk about a Vote Of No Confidence in the Government being tabled this coming week by the SNP in Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats’ priority is to stop Brexit altogether – that begins with stopping a ‘no deal’ Brexit on 31st October. So, whatever happens, it’s vital the House of Commons ensures nothing is done which will compromise our ability to stop a ‘no deal’ Brexit on 31st October. We will be guided by these goals.

The most sensible and realistic way to stop a ‘no deal’ Brexit is to bring forward the date for compliance with the Benn Act.

The Act currently forces the PM to ask the EU Council for an extension to the Article 50 process on or by 19th October – this leaves just 8 sitting days for Parliament to ensure compliance with not just the letter but the spirit of the law as set out in the Benn Act. This is clearly insufficient given the Government’s capacity to break the law, so the date for compliance should be brought forward by at least a couple of weeks – this will not preclude the Government negotiating a deal with the EU before the 31st October.

The other route suggested to stop a ‘no deal’ Brexit is to install a caretaker Prime Minister now, after a successful VONC in Boris Johnson’s administration, who we can be sure will definitely secure the important extension to the Article 50 process.

The 20 former Conservative MPs who were ejected from that party and at least 4 other independent MPs have already indicated they will not under any circumstances support the Leader of the Opposition in forming a caretaker government, so a Jeremy Corbyn led emergency government is impossible and does not arise as a prospect. Whether Mr Corbyn is asked to form a Government is not in our gift but if he seeks to do so it is clear he cannot command a majority in the Commons. The SNP are well aware of this which is presumably why their leader, Nicola Sturgeon, referred to being ‘open minded’ on an alternative.

We accept a neutral figure, who does not aspire to be Prime Minister in the long term, is most likely to be able to command a majority – that’s why we’ve suggested the Mother or Father of the House, Harriet Harman and Ken Clarke respectively, as compromise candidates instead of our own leader Jo Swinson. We understand why the Labour leader might want a Labour figure to lead such a project – Harriet would do the job well and would be Labour’s first woman Prime Minister. However, if the Leader of the Opposition won’t accept either of these suggestions, it would be helpful and constructive for him to propose an alternative suggestion. Whether this route is workable depends on his willingness to compromise for the sake of our country.

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