Jeremy Corbyn warned today that the UK is heading for a ‘political and constitutional storm’ over Brexit as he said Labour would do ‘everything necessary’ to stop a No Deal split from the EU.
Mr Corbyn reconfirmed his intention to bring forward a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government in the coming weeks as he used a wide-ranging speech to roll the pitch ahead of a potential snap general election.
The Labour leader urged MPs to back his plan to oust Mr Johnson and install himself as caretaker PM, telling them it is the only way to stop the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
He refused to say whether he would back another candidate to be the temporary PM if he was unable to win a majority in the House of Commons.
He said ‘all the constitutional precedents’ state it should be the leader of the opposition who forms the next administration as he dismissed ‘very imaginative what-ifery’ about uniting behind another less-divisive candidate.
Speaking in the Tory marginal seat of Corby, he said: ‘I will bring a vote of no confidence in the government, and if we’re successful, I would seek to form a time-limited caretaker administration to avert No Deal, and call an immediate general election so the people can decide our country’s future.
‘If MPs are serious about stopping a No Deal crash out, then they will vote down this reckless government and it falls to the Leader of the Opposition, to make sure No Deal does not happen and the people decide their own future.’
Mr Corbyn said a final decision on Brexit ‘must go back to the people’ and that Labour will commit at the next election ‘to holding a public vote… including the option to remain’.
There is increasing speculation in Westminster that Mr Johnson could go to the country within the next three months and senior Tories have today urged him to pull the trigger sooner rather than later to sink Remainer attempts to oust him.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory former leader, has suggested the Prime Minister should respond to demands for a no confidence vote by calling the bluff of Labour and proposing an election instead.
It came as Mr Johnson was under growing pressure to recall Parliament to allow MPs to scrutinise his Brexit plans after 100 backbenchers signed a letter demanding the PM cut short their summer holidays.
Mr Corbyn said Labour supported the move just hours after John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, had said the same.
Meanwhile, there is growing fear among Remain-backing MPs about the damage a No Deal Brexit could do to the UK economy after a leaked government contingency planning document warned of potential food, fuel and medicine shortages.
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in Corby today, used his speech to attack Boris Johnson and lay the groundwork for a Labour general election campaign
Mr Johnson, pictured in Truro today as he spoke to nurses at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, is facing increasing pressure over the prospect of a No Deal Brexit
In response to the growing prospect of a snap general election, Mr Corbyn today delivered a broad speech as he sought to set out his vision for Britain.
But his address at the Pen Green Children’s Centre in the East Midlands constituency was dominated by Brexit as he vowed to oppose a chaotic split from the EU.
‘The Conservative Party’s failure on Brexit, and its lurch to the hard right, has provoked the crisis our country faces this autumn,’ he said.
‘After failing to negotiate a Brexit deal that would protect jobs and living standards, Boris Johnson’s Tories are driving the country towards a No Deal cliff edge.
‘We will do everything necessary to stop a disastrous No Deal, for which this government has no mandate.
‘Boris Johnson’s government wants to use No Deal to create a tax haven for the super-rich on the shores of Europe and sign a sweetheart trade deal with Donald Trump: not so much a No Deal Brexit as a Trump Deal Brexit.’
He added: ‘The chaos and dislocation of Boris Johnson’s No Deal Brexit is real and threatening as the government’s leaked Operation Yellowhammer dossier makes clear. That’s why we will do everything we can to stop it.’
He also suggested that the forthcoming electoral battle could be a ‘once-in-a-generation’ political event – similar to when Margaret Thatcher was elected for the first time in 1979 – which will dictate the UK’s course for years to come.
Mr Corbyn said a snap general election could lead to change on a par with 1945 or 1979 – the year Margaret Thatcher (pictured) was first elected as prime minister
He said: ‘But while Brexit is the framework of the crisis we face, the problems facing our country run much deeper.
‘A general election triggered by the Tory Brexit crisis will be a crossroads for our country.
‘It will be a once-in-a-generation chance for a real change of direction, potentially on the scale of 1945 or 1979. Things cannot go on as they were before.’
Mr Corbyn said Labour was the only party capable of transforming the UK.
He said: ‘However, the Brexit crisis is resolved, the country faces a fundamental choice.
‘Labour offers the real change of direction the country needs, a radical programme to rebuild and transform communities and public services to invest in the green jobs and high-tech industries of the future and take action to tackle inequality and climate crisis.’
He added: ‘This is a historic moment, with the potential for real change to transform our country if we grasp the opportunity.’
Mr Corbyn last week wrote to opposition leaders and Tory rebels to plead with them to support his plan to bring forward a vote of no confidence, topple Mr Johnson, install himself in Number 10 and then seek a Brexit delay from the EU before calling a snap election.
But the chances of his plan succeeding appear slim with many MPs deeply sceptical a Commons majority would back Mr Corbyn to be PM.
The Liberal Democrats have led calls for Mr Corbyn to ditch his Downing Street dream and instead back the candidacy of a backbench MP who is more likely to secure the confidence of the Commons.
PM under pressure to cut short MPs’ summer break over Brexit anger
Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure from MPs to recall Parliament as fears continue to rise about the damage a No Deal Brexit could do to the UK economy.
The Prime Minister has again asserted that he will deliver on his commitment to leave the European Union on October 31 as his allies sought to play down a confidential Whitehall dossier which detailed the problems posed by a No Deal scenario.
But the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said it was impossible to be fully prepared for the disruption that would occur following the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
And shadow chancellor John McDonnell this morning formally threw Labour’s weight behind demands for Mr Johnson to cut short Parliament’s summer recess to face MPs at Westminster.
The House of Commons is not due to return until September 3.
But more than 100 MPs have signed a letter demanding Mr Johnson recall Parliament now so that they can scrutinise the government’s Brexit plans amid growing fears the UK will split from Brussels without an agreement
Mr Johnson used a Twitter post to repeat his message that the UK would ‘leave the EU on October 31st, invest more money in the NHS and crack down on violent crime’.
Mr Corbyn’s speech came before he is due to head to Ghana for a four-day fact-finding tour, a decision which has sparked anger among some Labour MPs who believe he should be spending every minute trying to stop No Deal.
One Labour MP told The Sun: ‘It would help matters if the party leader wasn’t going abroad at such a time. But what would help most is if he wasn’t Labour leader.’
Labour, believed to be funding the trip, said meetings were planned with the leaders of Ghana’s National Democratic Congress.
Mr Corbyn’s speech came after Mr Duncan Smith suggested Mr Johnson should take pre-emptive action to block a no confidence vote which is anticipated when MPs return from their summer holidays next month.
Remain-backing MPs want a no confidence vote to be called so that Mr Johnson can be defeated in the Commons and toppled, paving the way for them to take control of the Brexit process, potentially by forming a temporary unity government.
Mr Corbyn has urged opposition MPs and Tory rebels to back a plan to oust Mr Johnson and put the Labour leader in Number 10 as a caretaker prime minister who would ask the EU to push back the Brexit date to allow an election to take place.
However, should Mr Corbyn call for a no confidence vote, it is thought the exact timing of when it takes place would be up to the PM.
Mr Duncan Smith told The Sun Mr Johnson could stop the vote from happening by instead daring MPs to vote against an early election.
Home Office warns government against immediate end to freedom of movement
Ending freedom of movement overnight on October 31 when the UK leaves the EU could risk a repeat of the Windrush scandal in the months that follow, a Home Office briefing has warned the government.
The Home Office document states there could be ‘another Windrush’ if ministers try to introduce tough border restrictions immediately after Brexit.
The paper, apparently discussed at a No Deal planning meeting last week, reportedly stated that ending free movement straight away presented a ‘handling and reputational risk’ to the government.
There are fears that an immediate crackdown would create major problems because it would be incredibly difficult to distinguish between EU citizens who had lived in the UK before Brexit and those who had just arrived.
Campaigners believe that scenario would lead to ‘mass discrimination’ against EU citizens living and working in Britain.
‘If a confidence vote is called, an option for the PM is to call an immediate vote for a General Election instead,’ the leading supporter of Mr Johnson said.
‘For the Labour Party to refuse that would mean a total loss of face, and we would win that election, as it would be fought on who governs Britain and saving Brexit.’
Such a move could avoid Mr Johnson being ousted from Number 10, make it incredibly difficult for MPs to stop No Deal and put the pressure on Labour.
The comments from Mr Duncan Smith are likely to reignite Remainer fears that Mr Johnson could preemptively call an election in order to force through a No Deal Brexit on October 31.
The Tories responded to the pre-briefed extracts from Mr Corbyn’s speech by accusing him of trying to stop Brexit.
James Cleverly, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has done all he can to frustrate delivering on the referendum.
‘Only Boris Johnson and the Conservatives can provide the leadership Britain needs and deliver Brexit by October 31.’
The speech came as Westminster continued to experience fallout from the leaking of Operation Yellowhammer documents which set out how disruptive a bad break from Brussels could be for Britain.
Meanwhile it emerged a Remainer ‘rebel alliance’ of Tory backbenchers opposed to a No Deal Brexit has grown to as many as 40 MPs.
Downing Street blamed the ring leaders of the group for leaking the bombshell contingency planning papers.
Number 10 sources believe Philip Hammond, who quit the government before Mr Johnson could sack him over his anti-No Deal stance, or another former minister leaked the document out of revenge and in order to influence Brexit talks.
The government has insisted the doomsday dossier is out of date but the wind is now in the sails of the anti-No Deal Tory group known in Westminster as the ‘Gauke-ward squad’.
A letter sent by Mr Hammond to Johnson last week was signed by 21 Tory Europhile MPs.
But their numbers have now swelled to up to 40, according to The Telegraph, in a revelation likely to cause alarm in Number 10.
The leak of the document and the growing size of the anti-No Deal grouping on the government benches came just days before Mr Johnson is due to undertake a whirlwind trip to Berlin and Paris for Brexit talks.
Mr Johnson will meet Angela Merkel on Wednesday and Emmanuel Macron on Thursday when he will tell them that the UK is serious about leaving the EU with or without a deal on October 31.
However, a growing rebellion at home – and within his own Conservative Party – is likely to be the elephant in the room during discussions.
Those meetings will come before the PM heads to Biarritz in France at the weekend for a G7 summit and his first face to face meeting with Donald Trump.