Watson urges Corbyn to work with Lib Dems to stop no-deal Brexit

By Peter Madeley | Politics | Published:

Tom Watson has challenged Labour to work with the Lib Dems in order to block a no-deal Brexit he says would cause "dreadful damage" to the UK.

Labour's deputy leader called on all parties to put aside their differences and "work together" to stop an "undemocratic and disastrous" no-deal on October 31, a scenario he said was more likely since Boris Johnson had become Prime Minister.

His plea came as new Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson made it clear she would work with fellow Remainer Mr Watson, having already ruled out an alliance with Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Watson and Ms Swinson spoke at an event organised by the anti-Brexit youth groups For our Future’s Sake and Our Future Our Choice.

Referring to Mr Johnson's Brexit plans, West Bromwich East MP Mr Watson said: "To stop him, everyone who cares about democracy, our country and our future must work together, because there are enough of us from all parties in Parliament to stop him.

"First, that means working together to stop no-deal for which there is no majority in either Parliament or the country.

"We can’t allow dirty tricks that would for example see the UK crash out of Europe with no deal during an election campaign.

"Second, it means working together to make sure – whether it’s before an election or afterwards – we solve this Brexit crisis with more democracy, not less democracy, by having a final say referendum so that all the people have their voice heard.

"Whether you’re Liberal Democrats, social democrats or democratic socialists, we are all democrats. And democrats have got to realise in this crisis that we’re stronger together if we work together."


Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson

Mr Watson's comments are likely to spark further fury from the Labour leadership, with senior party figures already concerned over his campaign for a second referendum, which has seen him repeatedly challenge Mr Corbyn to maker Labour the "party of Remain".

Ms Swinson, who replaced Vince Cable as Lib Dem leader last month, has previously been highly critical of Mr Corbyn, saying there was "nothing to suggest" he could be trusted on Brexit and ruling out any possibility of the two parties joining forces while he is Labour leader.

Labour has said it would not back any unity government to stop no-deal unless it was led by Corbyn, whom they argue is best placed to command a majority.


Speaking at the same event, Ms Swinson said Brexit had become a "national humiliation" with the "risk of a disastrous no-deal" now "greater than ever".

"Boris Johnson and his Cabinet are now actively pursuing that dangerous path, and I am committed to working with others across party lines in Parliament to stop no-deal Brexit," she said.

"This is no time for tribalism. That is why I am pleased to be here today with Tom to show that there is a desire across the political spectrum to stop Boris Johnson’s reckless no-deal Brexit plan and instead deliver a brighter future inside the EU."

Meanwhile Commons Speaker John Bercow promised to "fight with every breath in my body" to prevent Mr Johnson from proroguing Parliament in order to achieve a no-deal Brexit.

He told an audience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that the House of Commons "must have its way" on the issue.

It came as a ComRes poll found that the majority of the British public (54 per cent) think Mr Johnson should suspend Parliament in order to push through Brexit.

However, the poll of 2,011 Brits also saw 51 per cent of respondents agree that "Brexit should be halted if problems over the Northern Ireland border threaten to split the Union".

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.


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