Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters heckled and booed journalists today after they questioned whether he would ever be able to persuade a majority of MPs to back his plan to become caretaker prime minister.
Mr Corbyn used a speech today in the Tory marginal constituency of Corby to again urge MPs to support his proposal to oust Boris Johnson and help him form a temporary government with the single goal of delaying Brexit beyond October 31 to stop a No Deal split.
But when it was pointed out to the Labour leader by the press during a Q&A after his speech had finished that it appeared unlikely he would be able to unite the House of Commons, loyal activists turned on the journalists asking the questions.
A Channel 5 reporter asked Mr Corbyn if he would step aside and allow someone else to be temporary prime minister if they had a better chance of winning a vote in the Commons.
But he was heckled and made to stop asking his question before Mr Corbyn intervened and said with a smirk: ‘Let Andy ask his question. He is a nice fella. It is alright.’
As the journalist tried again, there was more heckling as one audience member shouted ‘disgrace’ while another yelled: ‘He is our leader, not the press or Boris Johnson or Jo Swinson!’
Another reporter then suggested that Mr Corbyn would not have the support to be made caretaker PM to which a number of activists appeared to shout: ‘Rubbish!’
The exchanges prompted social media users to suggest it was ‘not a good look’ for journalists to be shouted down, especially since it is not the first time it has happened at Mr Corbyn’s speeches.
The ill-tempered event saw Mr Corbyn warn that the UK is heading for a ‘political and constitutional storm’ over Brexit as he said Labour would do ‘everything necessary’ to stop a No Deal split from the EU.
He reconfirmed his intention to bring forward a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s government in the coming weeks as he used a wide-ranging speech to roll the pitch ahead of a potential snap general election.
He refused to say whether he would back another candidate to be the temporary PM if he was unable to win a majority in the House of Commons.
He said ‘all the constitutional precedents’ state it should be the leader of the opposition who forms the next administration as he dismissed ‘very imaginative what-ifery’ about uniting behind another less-divisive candidate.
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in Corby today, used his speech to attack Boris Johnson and lay the groundwork for a Labour general election campaign
Mr Johnson, pictured in Truro today as he spoke to nurses at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, is facing increasing pressure over the prospect of a No Deal Brexit
Speaking in the Tory marginal seat of Corby, he said: ‘I will bring a vote of no confidence in the government, and if we’re successful, I would seek to form a time-limited caretaker administration to avert No Deal, and call an immediate general election so the people can decide our country’s future.
‘If MPs are serious about stopping a No Deal crash out, then they will vote down this reckless government and it falls to the Leader of the Opposition, to make sure No Deal does not happen and the people decide their own future.’
Mr Corbyn said a final decision on Brexit ‘must go back to the people’ and that Labour will commit at the next election ‘to holding a public vote… including the option to remain’.
There is increasing speculation in Westminster that Mr Johnson could go to the country within the next three months and senior Tories have today urged him to pull the trigger sooner rather than later to sink Remainer attempts to oust him.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory former leader, has suggested the Prime Minister should respond to demands for a no confidence vote by calling the bluff of Labour and proposing an election instead.
It came as Mr Johnson was under growing pressure to recall Parliament to allow MPs to scrutinise his Brexit plans after 100 backbenchers signed a letter demanding the PM cut short their summer holidays.
Mr Corbyn said Labour supported the move just hours after John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, had said the same.
Meanwhile, there is growing fear among Remain-backing MPs about the damage a No Deal Brexit could do to the UK economy after a leaked government contingency planning document warned of potential food, fuel and medicine shortages.
In response to the growing prospect of a snap general election, Mr Corbyn today delivered a broad speech as he sought to set out his vision for Britain.
But his address at the Pen Green Children’s Centre in the East Midlands constituency was dominated by Brexit as he vowed to oppose a chaotic split from the EU.
‘The Conservative Party’s failure on Brexit, and its lurch to the hard right, has provoked the crisis our country faces this autumn,’ he said.
‘After failing to negotiate a Brexit deal that would protect jobs and living standards, Boris Johnson’s Tories are driving the country towards a No Deal cliff edge.
‘We will do everything necessary to stop a disastrous No Deal, for which this government has no mandate.
Mr Corbyn said a snap general election could lead to change on a par with 1945 or 1979 – the year Margaret Thatcher (pictured) was first elected as prime minister
‘Boris Johnson’s government wants to use No Deal to create a tax haven for the super-rich on the shores of Europe and sign a sweetheart trade deal with Donald Trump: not so much a No Deal Brexit as a Trump Deal Brexit.’
He added: ‘The chaos and dislocation of Boris Johnson’s No Deal Brexit is real and threatening as the government’s leaked Operation Yellowhammer dossier makes clear. That’s why we will do everything we can to stop it.’
He also suggested that the forthcoming electoral battle could be a ‘once-in-a-generation’ political event – similar to when Margaret Thatcher was elected for the first time in 1979 – which will dictate the UK’s course for years to come.
He said: ‘But while Brexit is the framework of the crisis we face, the problems facing our country run much deeper.
‘A general election triggered by the Tory Brexit crisis will be a crossroads for our country.
‘It will be a once-in-a-generation chance for a real change of direction, potentially on the scale of 1945 or 1979. Things cannot go on as they were before.’
Mr Corbyn said Labour was the only party capable of transforming the UK.
Jeremy Corbyn’s policy commitments
Jeremy Corbyn made a series of policy commitments during his big speech this morning.
Introduce a real living wage of £10 an hour
Put workers on company boards
Give the workforce a 10 per cent stake in large companies
Bring rail, mail, water and the national grid into public ownership
Create a National Education Service providing free learning from the cradle to the grave
Free school meals for all primary children
Smaller class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds
No tuition fees at university or college
Create 400,000 well-paid high-skilled jobs in renewable energy and green technology
He said: ‘However, the Brexit crisis is resolved, the country faces a fundamental choice.
‘Labour offers the real change of direction the country needs, a radical programme to rebuild and transform communities and public services to invest in the green jobs and high-tech industries of the future and take action to tackle inequality and climate crisis.’
He added: ‘This is a historic moment, with the potential for real change to transform our country if we grasp the opportunity.’
Mr Corbyn also recommitted to a series of policy pledges including introducing a real living wage of £10 an hour and nationalising ‘rail, mail, water and the national grid’.
Mr Corbyn last week wrote to opposition leaders and Tory rebels to plead with them to support his plan to bring forward a vote of no confidence, topple Mr Johnson, install himself in Number 10 and then seek a Brexit delay from the EU before calling a snap election.
But the chances of his plan succeeding appear slim with many MPs deeply sceptical about whether a Commons majority would back Mr Corbyn to be PM.
The letter sent by Jeremy Corbyn to opposition leaders last week in which he set out how he intends to stop a No Deal Brexit
The Liberal Democrats have led calls for Mr Corbyn to ditch his Downing Street dream and instead back the candidacy of a backbench MP who is more likely to secure the confidence of the Commons.
Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake responded to Mr Corbyn’s speech by urging him to drop his opposition to another candidate becoming caretaker PM.
PM under pressure to cut short MPs’ summer break over Brexit anger
Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure from MPs to recall Parliament as fears continue to rise about the damage a No Deal Brexit could do to the UK economy.
The Prime Minister has again asserted that he will deliver on his commitment to leave the European Union on October 31 as his allies sought to play down a confidential Whitehall dossier which detailed the problems posed by a No Deal scenario.
But the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said it was impossible to be fully prepared for the disruption that would occur following the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
And shadow chancellor John McDonnell this morning formally threw Labour’s weight behind demands for Mr Johnson to cut short Parliament’s summer recess to face MPs at Westminster.
The House of Commons is not due to return until September 3.
But more than 100 MPs have signed a letter demanding Mr Johnson recall Parliament now so that they can scrutinise the government’s Brexit plans amid growing fears the UK will split from Brussels without an agreement
Mr Johnson used a Twitter post to repeat his message that the UK would ‘leave the EU on October 31st, invest more money in the NHS and crack down on violent crime’.
‘It is clear Jeremy Corbyn cannot command a majority in the House,’ he said.
‘He must do the right thing and confirm that if he cannot, he will support someone who can.’
Mr Corbyn’s speech came before he is due to head to Ghana for a four-day fact-finding tour, a decision which has sparked anger among some Labour MPs who believe he should be spending every minute trying to stop No Deal.
One Labour MP told The Sun: ‘It would help matters if the party leader wasn’t going abroad at such a time. But what would help most is if he wasn’t Labour leader.’
Labour, believed to be funding the trip, said meetings were planned with the leaders of Ghana’s National Democratic Congress.
Mr Corbyn’s speech came after Mr Duncan Smith suggested Mr Johnson should take pre-emptive action to block a no confidence vote which is anticipated when MPs return from their summer holidays next month.
Remain-backing MPs want a no confidence vote to be called so that Mr Johnson can be defeated in the Commons and toppled, paving the way for them to take control of the Brexit process, potentially by forming a temporary unity government.
Mr Corbyn has urged opposition MPs and Tory rebels to back a plan to oust Mr Johnson and put the Labour leader in Number 10 as a caretaker prime minister who would ask the EU to push back the Brexit date to allow an election to take place.
However, should Mr Corbyn call for a no confidence vote, it is thought the exact timing of when it takes place would be up to the PM.
Mr Duncan Smith told The Sun Mr Johnson could stop the vote from happening by instead daring MPs to vote against an early election.
Mr Corbyn, pictured leaving his London home this morning, is adamant that it must be him who becomes caretaker PM if a vote of no confidence against Mr Johnson succeeds
Home Office warns government against immediate end to freedom of movement
Ending freedom of movement overnight on October 31 when the UK leaves the EU could risk a repeat of the Windrush scandal in the months that follow, a Home Office briefing has warned the government.
The Home Office document states there could be ‘another Windrush’ if ministers try to introduce tough border restrictions immediately after Brexit.
The paper, apparently discussed at a No Deal planning meeting last week, reportedly stated that ending free movement straight away presented a ‘handling and reputational risk’ to the government.
There are fears that an immediate crackdown would create major problems because it would be incredibly difficult to distinguish between EU citizens who had lived in the UK before Brexit and those who had just arrived.
Campaigners believe that scenario would lead to ‘mass discrimination’ against EU citizens living and working in Britain.
‘If a confidence vote is called, an option for the PM is to call an immediate vote for a General Election instead,’ the leading supporter of Mr Johnson said.
‘For the Labour Party to refuse that would mean a total loss of face, and we would win that election, as it would be fought on who governs Britain and saving Brexit.’
Such a move could avoid Mr Johnson being ousted from Number 10, make it incredibly difficult for MPs to stop No Deal and put the pressure on Labour.
The comments from Mr Duncan Smith are likely to reignite Remainer fears that Mr Johnson could preemptively call an election in order to force through a No Deal Brexit on October 31.
The Tories responded to the pre-briefed extracts from Mr Corbyn’s speech by accusing him of trying to stop Brexit.
James Cleverly, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has done all he can to frustrate delivering on the referendum.
‘Only Boris Johnson and the Conservatives can provide the leadership Britain needs and deliver Brexit by October 31.’
The speech came as Westminster continued to experience fallout from the leaking of Operation Yellowhammer documents which set out how disruptive a bad break from Brussels could be for Britain.
Meanwhile, it emerged a Remainer ‘rebel alliance’ of Tory backbenchers opposed to a No Deal Brexit has grown to as many as 40 MPs.
Downing Street blamed the ring leaders of the group for leaking the bombshell contingency planning papers which predicted border chaos and shortages of vital supplies in a No Deal scenario.
Tories step up Facebook ad spending ahead of possible snap election
The Conservative Party has ramped up its spending on Facebook advertising as new Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to build support for his Brexit plans.
Data from the social media giant shows the Tories spent £86,020 on targeted advertising on Facebook in the 30 days to August 17- more than they spent over the previous 60 days (£54,603).
The 30-day total is more than three times the amount spent by the Labour Party (£23,135) during the same period.
The Liberal Democrats were the top spenders over the past 90 days with £151,137, but forked out just £4,027 in the 30 days to August 17.
The Brexit Party also appeared to reduce its spending – paying £11,461 in the past 30 days, compared with £83,155 over 90 days.
The Tory advertising push comes as the Government plots an estimated £100 million in spending on information to prepare people and businesses for a no-deal Brexit.
Number 10 sources believe Philip Hammond, who quit the government before Mr Johnson could sack him over his anti-No Deal stance, or another former minister leaked the document out of revenge and in order to influence Brexit talks.
The government has insisted the doomsday dossier is out of date but the wind is now in the sails of the anti-No Deal Tory group known in Westminster as the ‘Gauke-ward squad’.
A letter sent by Mr Hammond to Johnson last week was signed by 21 Tory Europhile MPs.
But their numbers have now swelled to up to 40, according to The Telegraph, in a revelation likely to cause alarm in Number 10.
The leak of the document and the growing size of the anti-No Deal grouping on the government benches came just days before Mr Johnson is due to undertake a whirlwind trip to Berlin and Paris for Brexit talks.
Mr Johnson will meet Angela Merkel on Wednesday and Emmanuel Macron on Thursday when he will tell them that the UK is serious about leaving the EU with or without a deal on October 31.
However, a growing rebellion at home – and within his own Conservative Party – is likely to be the elephant in the room during discussions.
Those meetings will come before the PM heads to Biarritz in France at the weekend for a G7 summit and his first face to face meeting with Donald Trump.
Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘election pitch’ speech in full
Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Corby this morning has been viewed as an attempt to set the tone for Labour’s campaign during a potential snap general election.
Here is the Labour leader’s address in full:
‘It’s great to be back in Corby and I’d like to thank all the staff and everyone involved at the Pen Green Centre for Children and Families for hosting us today.
‘I’m sure I don’t need to convince anyone here that as we look towards the return of parliament in September the country is heading into a political and constitutional storm.
‘It’s the Conservative Party’s failure on Brexit and its lurch to the hard right that has provoked the crisis our country faces this autumn.
‘After failing to negotiate a Brexit deal that would protect jobs and living standards. Boris Johnson’s Tories are driving the country towards a No Deal cliff edge.
‘We will do everything necessary to stop a disastrous No Deal for which this government has no mandate.
‘Boris Johnson’s government wants to use No Deal to create a tax haven for the super-rich on the shores of Europe, and sign a sweetheart trade deal with Donald Trump.
‘Not so much a No Deal Brexit more a Trump Deal Brexit.
‘Have no doubt, No Deal would destroy people’s jobs push up food prices in the shops and open our NHS to takeover by US private corporations.
‘That’s a price Boris Johnson is willing to pay because it won’t be him and his wealthy friends paying it – it will be you.
‘Labour will do everything we can to protect people’s livelihoods.
‘We will work together with the MPs from across parliament to pull our country back from the brink.
‘I will bring a vote of no confidence in the government, and if we’re successful, I would seek to form a time-limited caretaker administration to avert No Deal, and call an immediate general election so the people can decide our country’s future.
‘If MPs are serious about stopping a No Deal crash out, then they will vote down this reckless government and it falls to the Leader of the Opposition, to make sure No Deal does not happen and the people decide their own future.
‘Labour believes the decision on how to resolve the Brexit crisis must go back to the people.
‘And if there is a general election this autumn, Labour will commit to holding a public vote, to give voters the final say with credible options for both sides including the option to remain.
‘Three years of Tory failure on Brexit have caused opinions to harden to such a degree that I believe no outcome will now have legitimacy without the people’s endorsement.
‘But while Brexit is the framework of the crisis, we face the problems facing our country run much deeper.
‘A general election triggered by the Tory Brexit crisis will be a crossroads for our country. It will be a once-in-a-generation chance for a real change of direction potentially on the scale of 1945 or 1979.
‘Things cannot go on as they were before. The Conservatives and the wealthy establishment they represent have failed our country.
‘They have failed to protect living standards, savaged our public services, deepened inequality and failed to keep us safe.
‘Boris Johnson and his Tory cabinet have direct responsibility for the Tory decade of devastating damage to our communities and the fabric of our society.
‘However, the Brexit crisis is resolved, the country faces a fundamental choice.
‘Labour offers the real change of direction the country needs a radical programme to rebuild and transform communities and public services to invest in the green jobs and high-tech industries of the future and take action to tackle inequality and climate crisis.
‘The Tories have lurched to the hard right under Boris Johnson.
‘Johnson is Britain’s Trump, as the US president himself declared the fake populist and phoney outsider funded by the hedge funds and bankers committed to protecting the vested interests of the richest and the elites while posing as anti-establishment.
‘The Tories cannot be trusted to deliver on their quick-fix promises because their first priority is tax cuts for the big corporations and the richest.
‘The Tories can’t be trusted to deliver for the majority because they will always look after their own. Instead of fixing a failed system, they will turbocharge its inequalities, insecurities and climate destruction.
‘Labour can be trusted to deliver to end austerity, to take on the elites and the vested interests holding people back and to transform our country for the many, not the few.
‘Labour can be trusted to take the radical steps necessary to protect the environment provide hope, decent jobs, secure homes, opportunity to every nation and region and build a fairer country that works for all.
‘Our country has been held back for too long by the establishment that the Tories represent.
‘But together, we can take our future into our own hands and tackle the great challenges facing our country alongside Brexit; inequality and an economy run for the richest; public services that have been stripped back and sold off; and the climate emergency threatening our children’s future.
‘Inequality holds all of us back. It means the talent of millions of people is squandered.
‘We don’t have to be a country of food banks and rough sleepers at one end while the super-rich dodge taxes at the other.
‘People have a choice. Labour will raise tax for the richest and make sure they pay their share towards the common good.
‘The Tories will cut tax for the richest.
‘Labour will require the big multinational corporations to actually pay the tax they owe in this country.
‘The Tories will cut tax for big corporations.
‘It’s Labour that will get more money into your pocket rather than line the pockets of multi-millionaires.
‘We’ll introduce a real living wage of £10 an hour, including for young people who deserve equal pay for equal work.
‘But we need to go further. The problem with an unfair economy isn’t just the imbalance of wealth; it’s the imbalance of power.
‘Labour will give working people more power to win better wages and have security at work.
‘We’ll put workers on company boards and give the workforce a 10% stake in large companies; paying a dividend of as much as £500 a year to each employee.
‘And Labour won’t tell people they have to work until they are 75 before getting their pension, as Iain Duncan Smith’s think tank has suggested – a policy that discriminates against working class people – especially in manual jobs.
‘It’s past time that we rewrote the rules of the economy – to shift wealth and power – from a small elite at the top into the hands of the majority.
‘And that principle of empowering people doesn’t just apply to the workplace.
‘We’ll bring rail, mail, water and the national grid into public ownership. So the essential utilities people rely on are run by and for the public, not shareholders.
‘And we’ll give tenants more power and security including controlling rents, so dodgy landlords can’t rip them off.
‘And when we talk about inequality, we aren’t only talking about economics. We need a government that’s seriously committed to tackling the entrenched inequalities faced by women and ethnic minorities too.
‘The coming general election will be make or break for our public services.
‘The new prime minister has been making some pre-election spending pledges over the past few weeks.
‘That shows Labour has won the argument that austerity damages our country and that it was always a political choice.
‘But it insults voters’ intelligence to expect them to be grateful for a bit of extra money here and there, with no confidence that it will actually be delivered when it’s Boris Johnson’s Tories who ran our public services into the ground in the first place.
‘And it shows no understanding of the depth of the problem.
‘Take crime which the Prime Minister is now trying to turn to his political advantage, with yet more promises to tackle what the Tories have failed to bring under control for a decade.
‘In the 2017 election, Labour won the argument that Tory cuts to the police had made people unsafe, and we pledged to hire more officers.
‘The Conservatives have now conceded that we were right, but police cuts are not the only reason violent crime has doubled.
‘What the Tories won’t address is the much wider impact of austerity; the closed youth services; under-resourced mental healthcare; and the lack of funding for community mentoring.
‘We take youth services so seriously that we will make it compulsory for local government to deliver them.
‘And we know the direct impact that rhetoric around immigration, crime and stop and search can have on the lives of those from minority communities.
‘Labour will rebuild our public services because we understand they are the glue that binds society together.
‘We’ll restore pride in our NHS by funding it properly and end the sell-offs and privatisation.
‘And we’ll create a National Education Service providing free learning from the cradle to the grave including free school meals for all primary children smaller class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds and no tuition fees at university or college.
‘So who can the public trust to rebuild our public services after a decade of Conservative austerity – Labour, or the Tories led by Boris Johnson?
‘And on the issue that poses the greatest threat to our common future the climate crisis, it’s Labour that has shown leadership.
‘We ensured our parliament was the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.
‘That must be followed by radical and decisive action that will only be delivered by a Labour government.
‘It certainly won’t come from the Tories the party that scrapped the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, effectively killing off new onshore wind power projects, and is forcing fracking on local communities who oppose it.
‘We have to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, to rebuild British industry with a Green Industrial Revolution that will create 400,000 well-paid high-skilled jobs in renewable energy and green technology, particularly in parts of our country that never recovered from the decimation of our industrial base by Margaret Thatcher’s government places like here in Corby, where the closure of the steelworks cost thousands upon thousands of jobs.
‘Imagine if the Derbyshire and Yorkshire coalfields that once powered the nation became the new centres of green energy generation.
‘Or if towns that used to make locomotives built the next generation of high-speed electric trains.
‘Just imagine how it would feel for those communities to once again be the beating heart of our economy while reducing our greenhouse emissions.
‘That future is within our grasp. But I ask again: who do you trust to act on the climate emergency – Labour, or the Tories led by Boris Johnson?
‘We can’t afford more of the same, but even worse. The future could be fantastic. New technologies have the power to liberate us and help tackle the climate emergency.
‘But for too many, the future is frightening and uncertain because those technologies have been used instead to benefit the wealthy elite while driving down pay and security for millions.
‘The next Labour government will take on those who really run our country the bankers, tax dodgers and big polluters. So that the real wealth creators, the people of this country, can have the services, jobs and futures they deserve.
‘Because when Labour wins, we all win. The nurse wins, the pensioner wins, the student wins, the office worker wins, the engineer wins, we all win.
‘The chaos and dislocation of Boris Johnson’s No Deal Brexit is real and threatening as the government’s leaked Operation Yellowhammer dossier makes clear. That’s why we will do everything we can to stop it.
‘Then, after years of elite-driven austerity and neglect, we will recharge our politics with a massive injection of democracy kicking out the big money interests and putting the people in the driving seat.
‘We will rebuild our public services by taxing those at the top to properly fund services for everyone.
‘We will drive up people’s living standards by boosting pay, improving rights, and running our utilities and economy in the interests of the millions, not the multi-millionaires.
‘And we will transform our communities with investment in every part of our country breathing new life into our high streets, giving security to older people and hope and opportunities to our young people.
‘This is a historic moment, with the potential for real change to transform our country if we grasp the opportunity. Thank you.’