Jeremy Corbyn is convening a meeting of warring Remain-backing MPs today in a desperate bid to hammer out a plan to stop Boris Johnson taking the UK out of the EU without an agreement on October 31.
The Labour leader will meet with representatives from five other parties in his Westminster office to try to persuade them to support his proposal to oust Mr Johnson and become caretaker PM.
Mr Corbyn wants to topple Mr Johnson in a vote of no confidence, become PM, ask the EU for a Brexit delay and then call a snap election.
But many opposition MPs are vehemently against the idea of putting Mr Corbyn in Number 10, even if it is only for a limited amount of time.
Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, is deeply sceptical about whether Mr Corbyn could ever secure the support of a majority of MPs in the Commons and the chances of today’s summit ending with an agreed way forward appear slim given the pair’s ongoing war of words.
Ms Swinson wants Mr Corbyn to back a less divisive candidate to be caretaker PM but he is adamant that it must be him who forms a new administration.
As well as Ms Swinson, the meeting will also be attended by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Independent Group for Change leader Anna Soubry, Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
Senior Tory Remainer MPs were invited but they have all decided to skip the summit.
The meeting came after Mr Corbyn claimed Mr Johnson is ‘cosying’ up to Donald Trump and said a ‘No Deal Brexit is really a Trump Deal Brexit’.
Meanwhile, legal advice commissioned by Mr Corbyn and published today suggested any attempt by Mr Johnson to suspend parliament to force through a No Deal Brexit would be open to an immediate challenge in the courts.
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured just before today’s meeting got underway, is hoping to persuade MPs to back his plan to become caretaker PM
Mr Corbyn, pictured today alongside Nick Brown, Sir Keir Starmer, Valerie Vaz and John McDonnell, is meeting with the leaders of five other political parties as he tries to stop a No Deal Brexit
Mr Corbyn, pictured leaving his London home this morning, wants MPs to support a plan to oust Boris Johnson and make him caretaker PM
Today’s summit is likely to be a fractious affair due to an ongoing row between Mr Corbyn and Jo Swinson, pictured on August 15 in London, over how best to stop the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement on October 31
Mr Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the EU by the October 31 deadline with or without a deal.
He has repeatedly refused to rule out the prospect of proroguing parliament in order to stop MPs from thwarting a chaotic split on Halloween should his attempts to renegotiate fail.
Mr Corbyn said on the eve of the talks that Labour will ‘do everything necessary’ to halt a No Deal divorce.
He said: ‘Johnson is cosying up to Trump because a No Deal Brexit is really a Trump Deal Brexit.
‘It won’t return sovereignty, it will put us at the mercy of Trump and the big US corporations dying to get their teeth into our NHS, sound the death knell for our steel industry and strip back our food standards and animal welfare protections.’
Prorogation, and how to stop it from happening, is likely to be discussed at length as anti-No Deal MPs meet today ahead of parliament’s return from its summer recess on September 3.
However, the summit is set up to be a fractious affair given the animosity between Mr Corbyn and Ms Swinson.
The Lib Dem leader dismissed Mr Corbyn’s plan to take power when it was initially floated earlier this month, prompting senior Labour figures to call her ‘petulant’.
Ms Swinson wants Mr Corbyn to back a less divisive candidate to be caretaker PM and she has put forward the names of Labour veteran Harriet Harman and Tory heavyweight Ken Clarke.
She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme today: ‘If there are others, I am open to hearing others.
‘Anybody that could command a majority in the House of Commons to avoid us crashing out without a deal if the legislative approach, which I think is the strongest and best way forward, if that doesn’t work.’
Ms Swinson said she was ‘not precious’ about who a caretaker-prime minister should be.
Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, today said there would have to be ‘give and take’ during the talks.
‘Let’s put aside sort of fantasy politics of who wants this and that,’ he told the BBC.
‘We have got one week to make sure that so far as possible we have a plan that will be effective, that we can put into action.’
But in a sign of how difficult it could be for the leaders to agree common ground, Labour Party chairman and ally of Mr Corbyn, Ian Lavery, took aim at Ms Swinson last night.
Shami Chakrabarti, pictured on the Andrew Marr Show in May, said in her legal advice that suspending Parliament to force through No Deal would be ‘the gravest abuse of power’
Sir Keir Starmer, pictured in London in April, has urged opposition leaders to give up on ‘fantasy politics’ and agree a workable plan to stop No Deal
Ian Lavery, the Labour Party chairman, savaged Ms Swinson in a tweet sent last night in which he said ‘people shouldn’t get their abilities mixed up with their ambitions’
He tweeted: ‘UK Labour, Jeremy Corbyn initiative to avoid a catastrophic NO deal Brexit begins tomoro. But we all need a dose of political reality!
‘Jo Swinson and her pals have NO right whatsoever to dictate any terms!
‘People shouldn’t get their abilities mixed up with their ambitions.’
While Mr Johnson has not ruled out suspending Parliament, Nicky Morgan, the Culture Secretary, said this morning that she did not believe suspending Parliament was ‘on the cards’.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I don’t think it will be necessary because I think, as the Prime Minister rightly has said, actually the role for parliamentarians now is to support the vote from 2016.
‘Downing Street have made it very clear that claims of any sort of prorogation in September are utterly false and we are working very hard as a Government to prepare for no-deal … The Prime Minister has said he’s not attracted to these sorts of archaic conventions.’
Asked if she would resign in such an event, she added: ‘I’m not planning the ending of my cabinet career at this moment in time, because I like the rest of the cabinet am working very hard, both to support the Government in its efforts to find a deal, but also to prepare for a no-deal if that is what ultimately has to happen.’
The Prime Minister again refused to rule out suspending Parliament when he was asked about the subject yesterday at the end of the G7 summit in Biarritz.
He said: ‘I think it’s the job of everybody in Parliament to get this thing done.
‘I think it’s what the people want, I also think, by the way, it’s what our friends and partners on the other side of the Channel want – they want it over.’
The meeting was held after it emerged that legal advice commissioned by Mr Corbyn and written by shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti said sending MPs home to stop them thwarting Brexit would represent ‘the gravest abuse of power and attack on UK constitutional principle in living memory’.
The legal advice, seen by The Guardian, suggests that any move by Mr Johnson to eliminate Parliament from the Brexit process would likely be subject to judicial review.
Mr Corbyn’s decision to seek legal advice on the subject of prorogation comes after reports last week that Mr Johnson had asked for something similar from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.