Jeremy Corbyn should stand aside and back a national unity government if he cannot form his own administration to block a no-deal Brexit, a Labour MP has said.
Peter Kyle told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast the Labour leader should make a cross-party government with a backbench PM “priority number one” if he cannot get his own Commons majority after any vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson.
Kyle is part of a group of cross-party MPs trying to find a way to block no-deal on October 31.
A key weapon in its armoury is passing a vote of no confidence to bring down Johnson’s government, which would give MPs 14 days to find a majority for a new administration which would act to stop no deal.
Tory rebels are understood to be reluctant to back Corbyn, even as an interim PM to stop no deal, leading to calls for a national unity government led by a backbencher like Labour’s Brexit committee chair Hilary Benn or Tory Oliver Letwin.
But Labour has made clear it will not countenance anyone other than Corbyn taking over, with John McDonnell insisting he would “expect others to come behind us to do that”.
Kyle urged the Labour leadership to rethink, insisting that stopping no deal requires “a lot of Tories”, so “who they could countenance working with in this sort of situation would be very important”.
The Hove MP was speaking to Commons People as part of HuffPost UK’s tie up with the Big Tent Ideas festival.
Asked if he would like to see Corbyn stand aside if necessary to get behind a government of national unity led by someone else, Kyle said: “Jeremy is absolutely right to push to become prime minister, that’s his job. I absolutely understand, endorse and support Jeremy in his desire to do that.
“If Jeremy calls a no confidence vote in Boris Johnson I will vote for that vote of no confidence and I will expect Jeremy to try and form a government, of course he should.
“In the circumstances where Jeremy isn’t able to form a government and the prime minister isn’t able to form a government, I think resolving the Brexit issue and trying to explore different ways that parliament can get its act together to get us through this really difficult period would be priority number one and should be explored.
“I would certainly throw myself into it in an open hearted way.”
Kyle said he now believes he has a majority for his plan for a so-called “confirmatory referendum” with the government’s Brexit plan pitted against Remain.
He urged Labour to prioritise that over a general election, arguing that a national unity government should only be formed to preside over a second public Brexit vote.
Kyle said he had told Corbyn that he would not be able to unite the party around a Brexit position in any manifesto and warned that Labour would be “punished” in an election that takes place before Britain’s exit from the EU is resolved.
“I understand completely why Jeremy wants to push and move towards a general election, we should be doing so and we should be put on a general election footing at the moment,” Kyle said.
“But if we go into a general election before Brexit is resolved and the public have had a say on Brexit I think the results will be wildly unpredictable.”
He went on: “I think it will be a plague on all your houses and I think it will be an opportunity for the electorate to punish the political class for not resolving the biggest problem facing our country but also leading us to a place where politics has become more acrimonious, less consensual.”