Corbyn and opposition MPs have 'productive' meeting to stop no-deal Brexit

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt

Jeremy Corbyn has held a "productive and detailed" meeting with opposition MPs who are trying to team up and stop no-deal Brexit.

The group of MPs all agreed "on the urgency to act together to find practical ways to prevent no deal, it said in a joint statement, "including the possibility of passing legislation and a vote of no confidence".

A statement released after the meeting claimed a no-deal Brexit would be "disastrous" and said attendees agreed that "Boris Johnson has shown himself open to using anti-democratic means to force through" that outcome.

The legislative route to stopping no deal was preferred over the alternative, MPs in the meeting signalled.

Opposition leaders agreed to work together to stop a no-deal Brexit. Credit: PA

After meeting, the cross-party group signed a declaration stating that if Parliament is prorogued (suspended) in order for no-deal to be forced through, they will form an alternative parliament and continue sitting.

Mr Corbyn did not attend the Church House (where MPs sat for a time during World War II) meeting and was represented by shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

The Labour leader had invited MPs to meet with him and discuss his plan to hold a no confidence vote, which would allow a caretaker government to extend Article 50 and hold a general election.

Following the meeting, Mr Corbyn said: "We had a discussion this morning with all the other opposition parties and agreed I will put forward a proposal which will make sure that Parliament is able to debate a legislative way of preventing the government from crashing us out with no deal."

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson told ITV News a vote of no confidence would be "very much a final resort" and only used if the PM chose to ignore legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit.

Anna Soubry, who was representing the Independent Group for Change described the meeting as "excellent" and said all present had agreed to "work together to stop a no deal #Brexit by legislation".

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he was "excited" by the meeting and told ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt the room was totally united on the plan to push through legislation to block no-deal Brexit.

In a video message Green Party MP Caroline Lucas described the meeting as "very constructive" and said MPs agreed "that the legislative route is the most secure way forward".

She added: "We agreed first of all that a no-deal Brexit would be a catastrophe for this country, not least because it would likely see us being asset-stripped by Trump's America."

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “We committed to work co-operatively with every other opposition party and do everything in our power to avoid a catastrophic crash-out Brexit.”

Mr Corbyn wrote to 116 Tory and independent MPs, including Theresa May and Philip Hammond, asking them to support efforts to block a no-deal Brexit.

He said: "As you were one of 116 Conservative or independent MPs who voted against No Deal that day and are not on the government frontbench, I am writing to you to offer to work together, in a collegiate, cross-party spirit, to find a practical way to prevent No Deal."

Some recipients of Mr Corbyn's anti-no-deal-Brexit letter have said they would be unable to accept the Labour leader as head of a caretaker government.

Ahead of the meeting Jo Swinson, leader of the Lib Dems, told ITV News Mr Corbyn did not have the support to become acting prime minister and said she did not want to "spend time mucking about on ideas that aren't going to fly".

And Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly told described the meeting as a "bunch of people who haven't, and don't, and won't respect the outcome of the referendum, doing a bit of a talking shop".

He said instead the government is "getting on with delivering our on promise which is to get us out by October 31".

When asked by ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt whether he would be comfortable with Parliament being shut down to ensure that, he refused to answer the question.

Speaking at the G7 in Biarritz, Boris Johnson refused to rule out proroguing Parliament in order to force through no-deal. Credit: PA

The comments came as The Guardian reported that legal advice prepared for the Labour leader by shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti claims that Mr Johnson would be committing the “gravest abuse of power and attack on UK constitutional principle in living memory” if he shut down parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.

The meeting with Mr Corbyn on parliamentary tactics was also attended by Plaid Cymru Westminster head Liz Saville-Roberts, among others.

The party leaders have also agreed to hold further meetings.

Over the coming days contact will also be maintained at lower levels, with representatives "wargaming" strategies for how to create a legal barrier to a no-deal Brexit.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Allies of Mr Johnson hit out at the opposition leaders, claiming they would "sabotage" the chances of progress on a Brexit deal.

A Number 10 source said: "We are now making progress because our European partners realise we are serious about leaving the EU on October 31 - no ifs, no buts."

Mr Johnson tweeted that "the referendum result must be respected" and restated his commitment to the October 31 date.