Labour is ready to offer “strong and stable leadership in the national interest” if Theresa May fails to form a “coalition of chaos” with the DUP, Jeremy Corbyn has vowed.
Gently mocking the Conservatives’ campaign slogan, the Labour leader, who received a standing ovation, said democracy was a “wondrous thing” that could yield “very unexpected results” at the first parliamentary sitting of the House of Commons since the general election.
In a series of digs aimed at the Prime Minister’s catastrophic underperformance in the polls, Mr Corbyn told the chamber: “We look forward to this Parliament, however short it may be.”
Mr Corbyn defied predictions by leading his party to an unexpectedly strong result in the polls, gaining 262 seats. However, the Conservatives lost their Parliamentary majority, forcing them to enter talks with the Northern Irish unionists about a deal to support their minority government.
Speaking ahead of Mr Corbyn, Ms May congratulated John Bercow on his reelection as Speaker of the House, saying: “At least someone got a landslide.”
It comes following a day of tense talks between Ms May and the DUP to formalise a “confidence and supply” arrangement, which would see the Northern Irish party back the Government to get its Budget through and on confidence motions.
Party leader Arlene Foster wrote on Twitter: “Discussions are going well with the Government and we hope soon to be able to bring this work to a successful conclusion.”
Downing Street sources also told The Independent talks were “ongoing”. However, the deal has sparked a furious backlash over the DUP’s record on issues including LGBTQ+ rights and abortion, and how the arrangement could jeopardise Northern Ireland’s peace process.
But failure to reach an agreement with the socially conservative party could risk the new administration losing a crucial vote on the Queen’s speech next week – a position Mr Corbyn has been pushing for.
Mr Corbyn told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday the election signified a rejection of the “politics of fear” and said “we are ready any time” to govern, should Ms May’s premiership collapse.
“We have a chaotic situation with a government that sought reelection on the basis of wanting a bigger mandate and a bigger majority to bring stability to British politics,” he said.
“We are quite ready and able to put forward a serious programme that obviously has massive support in this country.”
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