May faces calls for unity government to end Brexit deadlock

Britain may need a government of national unity if Theresa May cannot deliver on Brexit, a Tory former cabinet minister has warned.

After MPs again voted to reject the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal on Friday, Nicky Morgan said a cross-party coalition may be the only way to break the deadlock.

(PA Graphics)

The Commons is due to hold a second round of indicative votes on Monday on alternatives to Mrs May’s plan amid warnings that Westminster is rapidly running out of time to resolve the crisis.

With the Prime Minister determined to bring back her deal for a fourth time, Mrs Morgan said if MPs were able to coalesce around one of the alternatives it may need a unity government to implement it.

Nicky Morgan (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“If the Government refused and Theresa May felt she could not implement what Parliament had identified as a way of leaving the EU, then I think we would have to think very hard about whether a cross-party coalition, group of people, whatever, could do that in order to make sure that the UK does leave the EU in an orderly fashion,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

The former education secretary – touted as a possible “unity” prime minister – added: “It may well be that if you end up with a cross-party approach to finding a majority in the House of Commons it might be that you need a cross-party approach to implementing it.

“There have been periods in our history when we have had national unity governments or a coalition for a very specific issue.”

Her comments came after Labour deputy leader Tom Watson suggested the time had come for a national unity government.

In an interview with Prospect magazine, he said: “I prefer Labour governments and I hope we never get to a point where our economy or security is so in peril that we get a government of national unity.”

But he added: “If needs must, we have to then do what’s right.”

Tom Watson (Yui Mok/PA)

There appeared to be little enthusiasm for the prospect among those around Jeremy Corbyn. Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald told Today: “I’m not sure that’s going to be the solution.”

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis also rejected the idea, insisting that Mrs May’s deal was still the best way to deliver an orderly withdrawal from the EU.

“A national government is not the answer. It doesn’t change the parliamentary maths and the fact that when MPs have voted they have consistently failed to come to a conclusion,” he told Today.

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