Jo Swinson sets out her demands for Jeremy Corbyn ahead of meeting of opposition parties

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. Photograph: PA/Sky.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. Photograph: PA/Sky.

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Jo Swinson has written to the Labour leader setting out her expectations of a meeting between opposition parties which will discuss steps to stop a No-Deal Brexit.

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In the letter she has urged opposition parties to focus on four critical points ahead of Tuesday's meeting:

- A strategy to take over the order paper to prevent No Deal

- A plan to beat the government in a vote of no confidence

- The steps that would need to be taken in forming an emergency government

- Clarity on where all opposition parties stand on the matter of stopping Brexit altogether

Swinson has used her letter to Jeremy Corbyn to restate her demand that the Labour leader does not lead a government of national unity.

She writes that key Conservative MPs have already rejected his plan: "Insisting you lead that emergency government will therefore jeopardise the chances of a no confidence vote gaining enough support to pass in the first place. As you have said that you would do anything to avoid No Deal, I hope you are open to a discussion about how conceding this point may open the door to a no confidence vote succeeding. Its success must be the priority."

She has again said that Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman would be her preferred choice.

The Liberal Democrat leader has also urged Jeremy Corbyn to be clearer about his position on Brexit.

She wrote: "You have previously said that you would seek to negotiate a Labour Brexit if in power, and Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell recently suggested that Labour could remain neutral in a future People's Vote. It would be appreciated by Remain voters across the country that both your personal and your party's position could be clarified in these discussions."

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Swinson said: "The meeting between opposition leaders tomorrow is an opportunity to reassure the British public that politicians are leaving no option off the table when faced with crashing out of the EU.

"We cannot allow party politics to stand in the way of finding a solution that works to prevent the national crisis approaching us.

"The Liberal Democrats stand ready to do everything we can to prevent not only a No Deal Brexit, but to stop Brexit altogether."

Jo Swinson's letter to Jeremy Corbyn in full

Dear Jeremy,

Thank you for your letter on 21st August 2019 regarding a meeting to discuss how we can prevent a No Deal Brexit.

As I have always said, my door is open to any Parliamentarians who wish to work together to prevent a disastrous No Deal. The same applies to all Parliamentarians who, like the Liberal Democrats, want to Stop Brexit altogether. Brexit will be disastrous for our country and those who wish to stop it must work together in the national interest.

Ahead of the meeting, and for the benefit of all those right across the country who are worried about the threat of a No Deal, it would be useful to set out an agenda. This is so that the British public can be reassured that politicians are leaving no option off the table when faced with crashing out on October 31st. I propose the following topics of discussion.

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1. Strategy for a legislative approach to successfully take over the order paper to prevent No Deal

This would need to follow the example of previous successful initiatives by the Commons in order to pass, and so be led from the backbenches with the cooperation of prominent senior Conservative and Labour MPs. Motions tabled by the Labour frontbench have not worked previously and therefore I hope you will accept that we need to allow backbench MPs to take the lead. For this to work, we must also work together to ensure that non-Government MPs, including Labour MPs, who have not supported such measures in the past come behind plans in the face of this national crisis.

2. Plan for an alternative strategy built around a vote of No Confidence in the government

We should discuss how to maximise the chance of a successful No Confidence vote. As I have set out before, the Liberal Democrats would vote No Confidence in the government were you to table one, and we called for such a motion to be tabled before the Summer recess to be certain we would have had time to hold a General Election before October 31st.

3. Discuss the steps that would need to be taken in forming an emergency government

This emergency government must have the majority support required to request and secure an Article 50 extension should the vote of No Confidence in the government be successful.

In the last week many MPs who stand opposed to No Deal, in particular key Conservative MPs, have rejected your proposal to lead an emergency government. Insisting you lead that emergency government will therefore jeopardise the chances of a No Confidence vote gaining enough support to pass in the first place. As you have said that you would do anything to avoid No Deal, I hope you are open to a discussion about how conceding this point may open the door to a No Confidence vote succeeding. Its success must be the priority.

The Father and Mother of the House, Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman, have expressed their willingness to lead an emergency government if the Commons asked them to do so. It would be useful to discuss who else you would consider acceptable candidates to lead a temporary government in order to secure that crucial majority.

4. Clarity on where all opposition parties stand on the matter of stopping Brexit altogether

You have previously said that you would seek to negotiate a Labour Brexit if in power, and Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell recently suggested that Labour could remain neutral in a future People's Vote. It would be appreciated by Remain voters across the country that both your personal and your party's position could be clarified in these discussions.

As I have said before, we cannot allow party politics to stand in the way of finding a solution that works to prevent the national crisis approaching us. I look forward to hearing your views on how this can be achieved.

The Liberal Democrats stand ready to do everything we can to prevent not only a No Deal Brexit, but to stop Brexit altogether. I look forward to our discussions on Tuesday.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Swinson MP

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