The Queen has a “duty” to offer Jeremy Corbyn the chance to become prime minister if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is voted down, John McDonnell has said.
The shadow chancellor said Labour should be given the opportunity to form a minority government without a general election.
Speaking at Reuters on Wednesday morning, McDonnell said he was confident Corbyn could then “secure a majority” in parliament for his Brexit proposal.
“The process around offering the Opposition party usually comes as result of the minority government losing votes within the House. That’s already begun to happen on the Finance Bill,” he said.
McDonnell said while the Finance Bill – which implements the government’s Budget – was usually the most significant piece of legislation, in the current parliament it was the Brexit deal that mattered most.
“The test is whether or not government is losing consistent votes on the issue of the deal itself,” he said.
“If it is, it is demonstrating as a minority government it hasn’t got the will of House – a majority in the House.
“The normal process is the Opposition party should be offered the opportunity to see if it can form a government.
“It will be a minority government, but then secure a majority in the House. That’s the process we should go through.”
McDonnell added: “It is constitutional, our custom and practice, if it’s minority government and they can’t attain a majority in parliament, usually it is the duty of the Monarch to make the offer to the Opposition the opportunity to form a government.”
May’s Brexit deal has angered the DUP and jeopardised the confidence and supply deal which props up her minority government.
The PM’s grip on power appeared to slip this week after her government caved in to a series of opposition amendments to the Finance Bill in the latest sign that the DUP’s MPs would not support May’s minority administration.
McDonnell said only if a minority Labour government could not secure a majority for its programme should there then be an election, or failing that, a second Brexit referendum.