John McDonnell has been accused of plotting a ‘coup’ involving the Queen if Boris Johnson refused to quit after losing a confidence vote.
The Shadow Chancellor used an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to say he would be ‘sending Jeremy Corbyn in a cab to Buckingham Palace’ if Mr Johnson did not vacate No 10.
It came after allies of the PM have made clear he will simply refuse to resign if rebel Tories join forces with Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems and independents to pass a no confidence motion.
Historian David Starkey said Mr McDonnell’s suggestion would amount to a ‘coup’.
‘I’m afraid Mr Corbyn would be arrested. The disguise has come off John McDonnell – he’s a revolutionary communist,’ he told the Telegraph.
And ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith added: ‘They don’t believe in her or the constitution. They will effectively arrive toting their guns. It’s basically a coup and then the break-up of the United Kingdom.’
Another MP critic of the shadow chancellor told MailOnline: ‘The thing with John McDonnell is you stick him in front of an audience and he cannot resist himself. His inner desire to storm the staircase of Buckingham Palace comes to the fore.
‘He hears the sound of Les Miserables. Put him on the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe and all the revolutionary instincts come to the fore.’
Chancellor Sajid Javid tweeted: ‘Not fit to be an MP, let alone shadow chancellor.’
Mr Johnson (pictured today in Downing Street) declined to say today whether he would call a general election if he lost a confidence vote in Parliament
McDonnell told listeners in Edinburgh (right) that Jeremy Corbyn (left) might have to appeal to the Queen if Boris Johnson lost a confidence vote but refused to quit as Prime Minister
Mr Johnson, asked today if he would wait until the UK had left the EU before holding a general election, in the event he lost a confidence vote in Parliament, swerved the question.
He told Sky: ‘We are going to leave the European Union on October 31 which is what the people of this country voted for, it’s what MPs voted for, and that’s what I think parliamentarians of this country should get on and do.
‘I think that MPs should get on and deliver on what they have promised over and over and over again to the people of this country, they will deliver on the mandate of 2016 and leave the EU on October 31.’
Mr McDonnell said: ‘I don’t want to drag the Queen into this but I would be sending Jeremy Corbyn in a cab to Buckingham Palace to say, ‘we’re taking over’.’
Labour has refused to back a plan from anti-No Deal Tory rebels to install a short-term ‘government of national unity’ led by a Labour backbencher to stop No Deal.
Instead, the party wants Mr Corbyn to be installed as leader of a ‘caretaker’ government.
Both sides in the Brexit battle are seeing to draw in the Queen (pictured arriving at Balmoral in Scotland on Tuesday) to bolster their cause
Historian David Starkey (left) and former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said Mr McDonnell’s suggestion would amount to a ‘coup’
Remainer rebels are preparing a fresh bid to block No Deal Brexit amid fury at strongarm tactics by the PM’s maverick adviser Dominic Cummings.
Countdown to Brexit
Here are some key dates in the countdown to Brexit:
September 3: Parliament returns from its summer recess
Early September: Labour is expected to trigger a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s Government
Early/Mid-September: If Boris Johnson loses the confidence vote, Remainers could try to install a cross-party administration to delay Brexit past October 31
Early/Mid September: Alternatively if Mr Johnson loses a general election is triggered if no one can form an administration within 14 days. But there are few rules on when he has to hold it
Early/Mid September: Or the Queen could step in and demand Mr Johnson resign, should he try to remain in No 10, sparking a potential constitutional crisis
October 31: Brexit day, when the UK is currently due to leave the EU
Early November? A possible post-Brexit General Election
Pro-EU MPs are gearing up to cancel Parliament’s planned recess next month so they have more time to prevent the UK crashing out of the bloc.
That could make it easier to seize control of business in the Commons and pass a law ordering Boris Johnson to beg Brussels to delay Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline.
The plan is being mulled alongside the ‘nuclear option’ of trying to defeat Mr Johnson in a confidence vote – which would require Tories to end their careers and risk a Jeremy Corbyn government.
Some Remainers also fear that would play into the PM’s hands by triggering an election and dissolving Parliament, meaning MPs lose control of the timetable.
Meanwhile, the Labour leadership is looking to exploit the Brexit turmoil to seize power.
The party has ruled out a unity government under a veteran MP like Margaret Beckett, in an apparent effort to back Conservative Remainers into a corner where they must choose between anointing Corbyn PM or No Deal.
Tensions have been rising amid alarm at the combative stance taken by Mr Johnson after he solemnly vowed to get the UK out of the EU by Halloween.
One Tory insider told the Guardian that Mr Cummings had introduced a ‘reign of terror’ since entering No10, installing the Vote Leave campaign team in key jobs and threatening to sack anyone not completely committed to No Deal if necessary.
There are claims that Mr Johnson and his aides are mulling calling an election for November 1 if he loses a confidence vote – the day after Brexit.
Mr McDonnell came under fire for other comments at a different event at the popular Scottish festival, where he said he ‘might want to invent’ a law to lock up Conservative MPs he has branded ‘social criminals’ for cutting benefits.
Call for law change to avoid food shortages
The British food industry has demanded ministers waive aspects of competition law to enable them to cope with the risk of a No Deal Brexit.
The Food and Drink Federation wants to allow firms to co-ordinate and direct supplies with each other. Doing so is illegal as the law stands.
Firms say, due to stockpiling for Christmas, leaving the EU in the autumn could mean there will be less warehouse space for extra food supplies.
The Road Haulage Association is also warning that lorry drivers in Dover face sitting in two-day-long queues without food or toilets if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
Tory MPs seized on the remarks, saying they showed Mr McDonnell was unfit for high office.
A source close to Mr McDonnell said the comments were a ‘joke,’ pointing out he was speaking ‘at Edinburgh festival where no speech should be without a joke’.
But Treasury minister Simon Clarke said: ‘These are not the comments of a man fit to be Chancellor – or to hold any office – in a Western democracy. A blatant affront to the rule of law.’
Tory MP Paul Scully added: ‘It comes as little surprise McDonnell wants to invent laws to silence opponents.
‘This is a man with a sinister history, who has called for a female MP to be lynched, ‘direct action’ against opposing MPs and praised the bombs and bullets of the IRA.’
Mr McDonnell was criticised in 2014 for repeating comments saying former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey deserved to be ‘lynched’.
Ian Austin, an MP who left Labour this year, tweeted: ‘Can you imagine any senior Labour figure of the past threatening to lock up Tory MPs for voting for laws they didn’t like?
No 10 chief’s chilling warning to rebels
By Claire Ellicot, Political Correspondant
Boris Johnson’s top adviser yesterday warned MPs trying to prevent a No Deal Brexit: ‘You don’t get to choose which votes you respect.’
Former Vote Leave chief Dominic Cummings said preparations for leaving the EU on October 31 without a withdrawal agreement were going ‘great’.
He was yesterday asked about comments made by pro-Remain Tory MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve.
Mr Grieve had attacked the No 10 adviser’s ‘characteristic arrogance and ignorance’ for reportedly saying it was now too late for MPs to stop No Deal with fewer than 90 days until the October 31 deadline.
Mr Cummings told Sky News: ‘I don’t think I am arrogant. I don’t know very much about very much. Mr Grieve will see what he’s right about.’
He added: ‘The most simple thing is, the Prime Minister believes politicians don’t get to choose which votes they respect – that is the critical issue.’
Meanwhile, it was claimed last night that Britain could go to the polls the day after a No Deal Brexit. A general election could be called on November 1, The Spectator reported. Last night, a senior Government source said: ‘It’s speculation. The only date we are thinking of is October 31 – the day we leave the EU.’
‘What would people like McDonnell call Right-wing politicians who send opponents to prison?
‘These people are extremists and they’ve poisoned the Labour Party.’
Chancellor Sajid Javid said the comments showed Mr McDonnell was ‘not fit to be an MP, let alone Shadow Chancellor’.
Mr McDonnell’s remarks were made in an interview conducted by broadcaster Iain Dale on Tuesday afternoon on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Dale quizzed the Shadow Chancellor on comments he made in September 2011 at a ‘Unite the Resistance’ conference in which he called Tory MPs ‘social criminals’.
The then backbench MP said he wanted to be ‘in a situation where no Tory MP can show their face in public without being challenged by direct action’, adding: ‘They are social criminals and I warn you, we will try them.’
Speaking to Dale, he said he was ‘angry’ at the time because of ‘cuts on disability benefits’.
He claimed he had ‘never advocated violence, but I have advocated direct action’. Asked whether he could really ‘try’ politicians in a court of law, Mr McDonnell said: ‘I wouldn’t mind it actually.’
- Shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis yesterday called for a general strike over climate change – despite Britain having reduced emissions faster than any other G20 country. The proposed date is September 20, weeks after children return to school following the summer holiday.
The two options being pursued by Remainers as they battle to block No Deal Brexit
Westminster is braced for an explosive couple of months as the October 31 Brexit deadline looms.
Boris Johnson has made a ‘do or die’ vow to get the UK out of the bloc by the crucial date, with or without a deal.
But Remainer MPs have been mobilising as they seek ways of blocking the country from crashing out.
There does appear to be a majority in the Commons against No Deal – but MPs are badly split over how they should go about binding the hands of the government.
Boris Johnson (pictured in Downing Street this week) has solemnly vowed to complete Brexit by October 31 ‘come what may’, but the EU is refusing to give way on his key demand that the hated Irish border be dropped
What are the options?
Remainers admit they are now at a ‘fork in the road’, with opinion divided between two potential options for averting No Deal.
Some, such as Tory former Cabinet minister Dominic Grieve, have been focusing on whether a no-confidence motion could be passed to evict Mr Johnson from power if he is about to push through Brexit without an agreement.
Mr Grieve has suggested putting a ‘unity’ premier into No10, perhaps Labour veteran Margaret Beckett, who could ask for an extension to the Article 50 process.
However, Mr Johnson’s hard-line Brexit adviser Dominic Cummings has made it known that he would simply refuse to quit even if he loses a confidence vote, and try to call an election for after the deadline.
The other avenue being pursued by Remainers is to pass a law that would oblige the PM to seek and accept an extension to Article 50 from the EU.
Unlike the confidence vote, that would not risk Parliament being dissolved for an election – which could leave MPs powerless to stop No Deal.
But there are concerns that Mr Johnson might either ignore the law or refuse to accept any conditions Brussels puts on an extension.
How would the confidence vote option work?
If the stand-off has not been broken by September, Labour is expected to team up with Tory rebels to stage an early confidence vote to stave off the threat of crashing out.
It is a drastic option that would end the careers of any Conservative MPs who join, but only a PM can request an extension to the Article 50 process, and the legal default currently is that the UK leaves at Halloween with or without an agreement.
As the government’s working majority is just one and with strong cross-party opposition to No Deal, there is a serious prospect that Mr Johnson will lose.
But Mr Cummings reportedly ‘laughed’ at a meeting recently when it was put to him that Mr Johnson would have to quit if he lost such a vote.
Instead, he could try to wait for an election to be triggered and fight it on a ‘people vs politicians’ ticket, complaining that his opponents are trying to block Brext.
He could also try to fix an election date that was after the Brexit date – robbing the Commons of its ability to control the process and achieving a No Deal Brexit by default.
Remainers believe if the premier refused to go quietly the Queen would be forced to sack him and a unity Government could be installed, with Margaret Beckett a rumoured interim leader
Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), losing a confidence motion triggers a 14 day countdown to an election being called.
During that period it is possible for a Prime Minister to win a confidence vote and prevent the country going to the polls.
However, the legislation is silent on whether the same premier can return to try again.
Remainer MPs say the Queen would have to sack Mr Johnson if he refused to resign after losing a confidence vote.
But the monarch has always been extremely wary of wading into politics, and it is far from clear that there will be another politician with more chance of commanding a majority in the Commons. Labour has already ruled out the Remainers’ favoured option of a national unity government, and Mr Corbyn can barely rely on the support of his own MPs – let along Tories.
How would passing a law for a Brexit delay work?
Pro-EU MPs have already deployed the tactic of seizing control of Commons business to pass a law insisting on a Brexit delay.
In April a Bill sponsored by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory Oliver Letwin made it through Parliament, which paved the way for the Article 50 extension to October 31.
There are moves afoot to cancel the schedule recess next month, which would give more time.
It would require the assistance of Speaker John Bercow, but he has shown himself will to stretch procedural rules to breaking point in order to facilitate MPs getting involved in the Brexit process.
Potentially this approach would involve an emergency debate – known as a Section 24 debate – being tabled and accepted by the Speaker.
He would then allow the MPs to put down a business motion in the slot the next day, setting out the steps for a law to be passed.
That legislation is likely to be very short, simply instructing the PM to seek and accept an extension from the EU.
Remainers are divided over whether the Bill should point the way to a resolution to the Brexit crisis, such as a referendum.
However, if passed by the Commons and the Lords, Mr Johnson would be breaking the law if he refused to ask for an extension.
Refusing to comply would spark legal action, and cause a constitutional crisis.
If the stand-off has not been broken by September, Jeremy Corbyn (pictured at Whaley Bridge this week) is expected to team up with Tory rebels to stage a confidence vote – which Mr Johnson could easily lose