Remain-supporting MPs are awaiting Jeremy Corbyn’s next move after his proposal to become caretaker prime minister to block a no-deal Brexit received a mixed response.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson wrote to Mr Corbyn to suggest the pair meet “in the coming days” to discuss how their parties could work to stop a no-deal Brexit, but reiterated her belief that it must be someone else who leads an emergency government.
When asked how they would respond to Ms Swinson’s offer, the Labour Party referred back to its leader’s earlier remarks in which he welcomed an “encouraging” response from MPs to his plan.
This involves a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Boris Johnson, extension to the Brexit deadline beyond October 31 and general election with him as temporary PM.
The SNP and Plaid Cymru suggested they could support the plan, while some Tory rebels indicated they would hold talks with Mr Corbyn.
But senior Tory Remainer Dame Caroline Spelman and the Independent Group for Change refused to support any Corbyn government.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also challenged Tory MPs to think very carefully about how they proceed in response to the unity government idea.
He told reporters: “I think it’s absolutely extraordinary that any Conservative MP considered even for one minute installing Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.
“Jeremy Corbyn would wreck our economy, he would destroy jobs and the livelihoods, savings, I think he also can’t be trusted with security or crime and … I just think that any Conservative should think very, very hard about doing this. It actually presents a very clear choice.
“You either have Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister overturning the result of the referendum or Boris Johnson respecting the referendum, putting more money into the NHS, more police on the streets to keep us all safe.”
As the different Remain factions split over the issue, Mr Johnson used Twitter to repeat his Brexit plan.
He wrote: “The referendum result must be respected. We will leave the EU on 31st October.”
Conservative former ministers Dominic Grieve and Sir Oliver Letwin were among those to be contacted by Mr Corbyn.
Mr Grieve said a national unity government led by Mr Corbyn is a “most unlikely way forward”, noting the Labour leader has views which are “entirely abhorrent” to him.
He said he was happy to speak to Mr Corbyn about ways in which they might “co-operate” to stop a no-deal Brexit, adding to the BBC: “Even for a short period a prime minister in a caretaker capacity has got to be somebody who can inspire trust – and such people do exist within the House of Commons and would be in a position to do that.
“I have to say that seeing Jeremy Corbyn’s history, it’s difficult to see how he could possibly be in a position to do such a thing.”
Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie, formerly of Labour and a long-time critic of Mr Corbyn, said Parliament must legislate to stop a no-deal Brexit.
He added on Twitter: “I don’t want a Johnson govt. I’d rather a truly national unity administration.
“But unless we can be *totally certain* of securing numbers for this, dissolving Parliament after 14 days hands Boris total power to crash out with no-deal.”