Tory rebel Dominic Grieve seems to have rowed back on his agreement to talk with Jeremy Corbyn about supporting his ‘no confidence’ plan to topple Boris Johnson.
In an email seen by the New Statesman, Grieve responded to someone critical of the Labour leader’s plan by stating: “I entirely agree. I am not about to facilitate Jeremy Corbyn’s arrival in Downing Street.”
So what, exactly, was he going to say, once he got into a negotiating chamber with the Labour leader?
The issues are clear: Either help Mr Corbyn stop BoJob’s plan for a “no deal” Brexit or be counted among its facilitators.
It is the same issue that is facing Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. After being made to look a fool for dismissing Mr Corbyn’s plan outright yesterday, is she mature enough to swallow her wounded pride, admit she may have been mistaken, and come to the table?
Caroline Lucas hopes so:
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) August 15, 2019
Ms Lucas also suffered ridicule earlier this week, when he call for an all-female alternative cabinet attracted criticism for being both sexist and racist. She has showed the maturity necessary to realise that her idea was a mistake, reconsider, and come around to supporting Mr Corbyn.
Many others are appealing for Ms Swinson to do the same and help give Mr Corbyn the Parliamentary majority he needs.
Jonathan Lis, in The Guardian, has claimed that Ms Swinson has put herself in a difficult position that needs to be explained: “Swinson has always emphasised, rightly, that her party’s priority is to stop no deal. This could prove the only way to do so. If the Lib Dems really believe that a few months of a limited Corbyn government is worse than medicine shortages, it is their duty to say why.”
Can she? It seems doubtful.
Mr Lis, of the think tank British Influence, continued: “It is time for the Lib Dems, and indeed all remainers, to decide what they really want. A few months of a Corbyn government is not worse than infrastructural or economic collapse. If your most important goal is to stop no deal, you must take every conceivable step to do just that. Our politicians will not benefit from the catastrophe of a crash-out Brexit. But, far more importantly, neither will the British people.”
If Ms Swinson is indeed interested in stopping Brexit – and not just in stopping Jeremy Corbyn – then these issues should be on her mind.
Also on her mind should be the decisions of the people who have voted Liberal Democrat in recent months, on the understanding that they were supporting the ‘Party of Remain’. If she flat-out refuses an opportunity to stop Brexit, she will be betraying them. And it seems likely that Boris Johnson will call a general election immediately after his Brexit happens on October 31, if he gets that far. What will those voters do then?
The most likely choice for them is to abandon her – and her party.
Her knee-jerk reaction also induced people to remember the Liberal Democrats’ Parliamentary record – and the recollection is far from palatable:
My Lib Dem friends should read this – last time a Lib Dem leader refused to form a government with Labour at a moment of crisis because they didn’t like the Labour leader. And decided that Cameron & Osborne were so much better https://t.co/FeAznkGOzM… https://t.co/Zk8DlcPGz9
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) August 16, 2019
I was there and wrote a book about this – ‘Five Days in May’. The darkest chapter of modern British liberalism pic.twitter.com/1HD6qedljO
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) August 16, 2019
So, there we have it: the Liberal Democrats prefer No Deal with Boris to No Brexit with Corbyn.
I’d say I was surprised by the betrayal of their flagship policy, but then again, I’m old enough to remember 2010.
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) August 15, 2019
Speaks volumes that the Lib Dems will happily jump into coalition with the Tories to implement austerity but can’t countenance supporting a credible cross-party plan to prevent no deal.
When it comes to risking jobs and living standards they know no bounds.
— Jo Platt MP (@JoPlattMP) August 15, 2019
And the commenters on the social media made up their minds very quickly:
Look what's been trending at No.1 for hours:#NoDealLibDems
The game playing of Jo Swinson, hand in hand with Chuka Umunna and underhand with Tom Watson, has been exposed. Massive backfire on the LibDems trying to gain political advantage at the expense of the UK's well-being. pic.twitter.com/Wf9sfsJmic
— Matt Thomas #JC4PM (@Trickyjabs) August 15, 2019
Ms Swinson’s offer to support a ‘no confidence’ vote and interim government if it was led by Harriet Harman or Kenneth Clarke (she thought these were the longest-serving MPs of either gender in the House of Commons but in fact Dennis Skinner is the longest-serving male MP; he refused the title “Father of the House” so it went to the next-eligible candidate) has also been met with derision:
No Deal Swinson with the 14 MPs thinks she can tell the leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition that she will talk with him providing Harriet Harman is appointed interim leader.
Tell you what Jo, how about Layla Moran replaces you, or even a Primark mannequin, then we talk?
— Rachael Swindon #ReachOverTheNoise (@Rachael_Swindon) August 15, 2019
And many think she’s just a Tory in disguise:
Jo Swinson was a better Tory than a LibDem MP….
Principles for sale….. She's become a joke….#channel4news
— Simon Patterson #JC4PM #IStandWithChrisWilliamson (@SimonWPatterson) August 15, 2019
On the subject of principles: As I have been writing this, a Liberal Democrat source has told the Independent that the party has “no principled objection” to supporting Mr Corbyn as an interim prime minister.
So it seems even her own MPs won’t support Ms Swinson – if only now that they have seen the way the wind is blowing.
Will she make the smart choice, admit she spoke too soon, and get behind Mr Corbyn now?