A Conservative MP has said a government with Jeremy Corbyn as ‘caretaker’ prime minister would be “less damaging” than a no-deal Brexit.
Ex-minster Guto Bebb’s extraordinary statement came as Tory rebels agreed to meet the Labour leader for talks on how they can join forces to stop the UK leaving the EU without an agreement.
The comment came after Corbyn asked opposition parties and anti-no deal Tory MPs to back him to become a “time-limited” prime minister after a vote of no confidence in parliament to bring down Boris Johnson’s government.
Bebb, who had already hinted he could support a vote of no confidence in Johnson, said: “I think there are other alternatives that are open to us.
“But I do think that those who have said that they will do anything necessary to stop the long-term damage of a no deal exit must take seriously this type of offer.”
He added: “So I think that there are other proposals that can be taken in terms of ensuring no deal is taken off the table.
“But I certainly take the view that a short-term Jeremy Corbyn government is less damaging than the generational damage that would be caused by a no deal Brexit.”
Bebb announced last month he would be stepping down as an MP at the next general election, and resigned as defence minister to back a second Brexit referendum.
Johnson’s government only has a majority of one, so any whiff of a rebellion is seen as significant. It remains unclear how many would actually vote to remove their own party from power, if any.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has said she would rather have an interim government led by a respected backbencher like Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman, but the apparent openness of the Tories to at least discuss the idea with Corbyn will add to the pressure on her.
On Thursday night, she published an open letter suggesting Labour does not have the numbers in parliament for his plan to work.
And Conservative former attorney general Dominic Grieve, another rebel, said a national unity government led by Corbyn is a “most unlikely way forward”, noting the Labour leader has views which are “entirely abhorrent” to him.
Grieve told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “The idea that Jeremy Corbyn could provide leadership for what would effectively be a government of national unity seems to me to be rather improbable.
So far the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have signalled they could be willing to work with Corbyn.