Boris Johnson faces ambush as SNP and Labour look to no-confidence vote

Embattled Boris Johnson could face a powder keg confidence vote next week as the storm of discord that has marked his fledgling government builds to a climax.

Labour and the SNP, the two main opposition parties in the Commons, say they are ready to push for a momentous vote that could bring down the minority Tory administration, as Johnson faces growing pressure over claims of bullying behaviour and his relationship with US entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri.

The Prime Minister’s prorogation of Parliament was ruled unlawful by the UK Supreme Court last week and there is little sign of a breakthrough with EU leaders in securing a Brexit deal.

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Boris Johnson 'could face no-confidence vote next week', warns SNP's Stewart Hos...
Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.  Pictures; PANicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.  Pictures; PA
Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. Pictures; PA
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Asked if he was ready to become an interim Prime Minister if necessary, Corbyn said: “Absolutely. The normal process is that when a government collapses, the leader of the opposition is invited to form a minority government in order to carry through a specific and strictly limited process which would be to ensure no crash-out and to prepare for a general election.”

A general election

The Labour leader added the prospect of a general election was “getting more likely every single day”.

“This government is collapsing, it’s now lost all seven votes since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister,” he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: PAPrime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: PA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: PA

However, the plan would need to secure the support of Liberal Democrats who will not accept a Corbyn-led government and favour instead alternative candidates such as Tory grandee

Ken Clarke or Labour’s Harriet Harman, above left. A Corbyn-led administration would also require backing from perhaps up to ten former Tories now sitting as independents.

Former SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie gave the clearest indication yet yesterday that a confidence vote could be called next week. He warned MPs they may have no other option but Corbyn if they were serious about preventing a no-deal Brexit.

“We have to do that because there is now no confidence that the Prime Minister will obey the law and seek the extension that Parliament voted for only a few weeks ago,” he told the BBC.

“If we are serious about the extension, that is the only game in town.”

No deal fears

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Hosie’s intervention follows talks between the opposition party leaders at Westminster aimed at preventing a no-deal break. So far they have been reluctant to go for a confidence vote, fearing that under the terms of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act Mr Johnson could, if he is defeated, delay a general election until after 31 October by which time Britain will be out of the EU.

Hosie said the plan could work if an alternative government capable of commanding a majority had been “pre-agreed” before the confidence vote.

The Dundee East MP said it was “self-evidently the case” that as the leader of the second largest party at Westminster, Corbyn should have the first chance of forming an administration.

“If another name came forward that was acceptable to everybody – a Ken Clarke or Dominic Grieve type figure – then self-evidently that would be a good thing to do,” he said.

“But it is also self-evidently the case that the second largest party should have the first chance to form that administration. If Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems are actually serious about their stopping Brexit position then they need to stop playing political games and get on board with everybody else.”

The SNP’s support for a Corbyn regime comes after he indicated he would not block a second vote on Scottish independence if he becomes Prime Minister.

Scots Tory interim leader Jackson Carlaw criticised the SNP, and warned his “extreme politics” will spread “fear” among Scotland’s Jewish community.

“To contemplate putting him in power, even temporarily, shows that the SNP simply doesn’t care,” Carlaw said. “Worse, being open-minded to Jeremy Corbyn as UK prime minister is opening the door to a man who spreads genuine fear among the Jewish community.”

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Former SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie says Jeremy Corbyn, left, should have the first chance of forming an administration. Main photograph: Chris McAndrew

‘Government’s lost all seven votes since Johnson became PM’

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