Corbyn says ‘it’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who is PM’ amid leadership row

Jeremy Corbyn has struck out at Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson after she rejected his plan to lead an emergency government to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader said: “It’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who the next prime minister is going to be” after she swiftly dismissed his proposal to force a general election as “nonsense”.

Ms Swinson was under increasing pressure to back Mr Corbyn’s suggestion that included forcing out Boris Johnson in a vote of no confidence and securing an extension to the Brexit deadline beyond October 31.

But she maintained her stance that he was not the right politician for the job, despite agreeing to meet with him to discuss a no-deal prevention plan.

On Friday, Mr Corbyn told the PA news agency: “It’s not up to Jo Swinson to choose candidates, it’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who the next prime minister is going to be.

“Surely she must recognise she is a leader of one of the opposition parties who are apparently opposed to this Government, and apparently prepared to support a motion of no confidence.

“I look forward to joining her in the lobbies to vote this Government down.”

Ken Clarke
Ken Clarke (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ms Swinson has instead tipped Tory grandee Ken Clarke and senior Labour MP Harriet Harman to lead the emergency government.

She said she has spoken to the pair – who are Father and Mother of the House – and won their assurances they are ready to “put public duty first” to “stop us driving off that cliff”.

However, Mr Corbyn’s plan has won the potential backing of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Tory MP Guto Bebb.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was among those applying pressure to Ms Swinson to re-think her position.

Brexit
Harriet Harman (VIctoria Jones/PA)

Senior Remain-supporting Tories Dominic Grieve and Sir Oliver Letwin, as well as independent MP Nick Boles, have also agreed to meet Mr Corbyn.

But Dame Caroline Spelman and the Independent Group for Change ruled out support for any Corbyn government.

Also on Friday, a source close to Dame Caroline dismissed any chance of her meeting with Mr Corbyn, despite the MP’s name appearing on a letter suggesting she was open to talks.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Sajid Javid was to become the first senior member of Mr Johnson’s Government to meet with an EU leader to discuss Brexit, during a trip to Berlin on Friday to see German finance minister Olaf Scholz.

Despite the deadline looming, the Prime Minister has refused to meet the bloc’s leaders for discussions on a new deal unless they agree to scrap the Irish backstop.

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