Brexit: Boris Johnson’s government could face no confidence vote in coming days, SNP warn

‘If we are serious about the extension that is the only game in town’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 29 September 2019 13:25
SNP's Stewart Hosie confident of no confidence motion in coming week

Boris Johnson could face a vote of no confidence in the coming days, the SNP has warned as they aim to replace his government with a temporary administration to secure a Brexit extension.

As the prime minister headed to Manchester on the eve of the Conservative Party’s annual conference, the SNP’s trade spokesperson warned his party no longer had faith Mr Johnson would “obey the law”.

Following talks between opposition party leaders at Westminster this week, Stewart Hosie said a no-confidence route was now the “only game in town” in ensuring Mr Johnson did not take Britain out of the EU on 31 October without a deal.

Mr Hosie’s intervention comes after Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP’s leader, signalled her party could support installing Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street on a temporary basis in order to request an Article 50 extension from Brussels, and then call an immediate general election.

So far, Labour has said they will only support an election once the party can be sure a no-deal exit from the EU on 31 October has been avoided, and has resisted Mr Johnson’s repeated attempts to seek a general election.

Jeremy Corbyn reiterated that position at a rally in Essex on Saturday. “Our priority, all of us, is to prevent a no-deal exit from the European Union on the 31st,” he said.

Asked directly whether there was a realistic prospect of a no-confidence vote being laid against the government next week, Mr Hosie replied: “I believe there is.”

He added: “We have to do that because there’s now no confidence that the prime minister will obey the law and seek the extension which parliament voted for only a few weeks ago.

“It does appear they [Labour] want the extension, and if the only way to do that is a no-confidence vote, an interim administration for a very short term, simply to get that Article 50 extension, and then to call an election, it would be hard to see them reject that offer.”

However, he acknowledged that the Liberal Democrats were reluctant to support a measure which could see Mr Corbyn installed in No 10 as prime minister. “If another name came forward that was acceptable to everybody – a Ken Clarke or Dominic Grieve-type figure – then self-evidently that would be a good thing to do,” he said.

“But it is also self-evidently the case that the second largest party [Labour] should have the first chance to form that administration.

“If Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems are actually serious about their stopping Brexit position then they need to stop playing political games, get on board with everybody else.”

Responding to a tweet suggesting installing the Labour leader in No 10 to secure an extension to Article 50 on Friday, Ms Sturgeon said: “Agree with this. Vote of no confidence, opposition unites around someone for sole purpose of securing an extension, and then immediate general election.

“Nothing is risk-free, but leaving Johnson in post to force through no deal – or even a bad deal – seems like a terrible idea to me.”

Earlier this week the prime minister said he would allow time for a vote of no confidence in his government, should any of Westminster’s opposition parties wish to do so. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the government is only obliged to allow time in the Commons for a no-confidence motion if brought about by the leader of the opposition.

Mr Johnson said that opposition parties should have the “courage” to table a no-confidence vote to remove him from office, adding: “This parliament must either stand aside and let this government get Brexit done, or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.”

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