Government of National unity?

If Boris Johnson loses a confidence vote who replaces him?

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Rebecca Long-Bailey says Labour will not join national unity government to block no-deal Brexit

The Shadow Business Secretary - a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn - warned that such a plan would not be able to muster a "clear majority" in the Commons if the Prime Minister is defeated in a confidence vote.

The proposal has been talked up by key Remain-backing figures, including former attorney general Dominic Grieve, in recent days.

He said a "number of people" - including former Labour frontbenchers - could head up a cross-party anti-Brexit administration if Mr Johnson's government is brought down when Parliament returns next month.

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Could a government of national unity be formed?

By Joe Harker

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to face a motion of no confidence shortly after parliament returns from summer recess on September 3.

If most of the other parties in the House of Commons vote against the Conservatives and are joined by a handful of Tory rebels they could topple the government.

This would trigger a 14 day period where someone else would have a chance to form a government. Surely the parties looking to take Johnson down have a plan for what comes afterwards?

The Claim:

Polly Toynbee of The Guardian believes that a government of national unity is needed to avoid a no deal Brexit in the short term.

It would need to consist of Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Change UK, Tory rebels and some independent MPs to have a majority that could temporarily command the confidence of the Commons.

With such a disparate group their only real aim would be to stop a no deal Brexit before dissolving for a general election, seeking an extension to Article 50 to grant the UK more time to sort itself out.

In the event of a successful vote of no confidence it is likely that such a government would need to be formed. Johnson has indicated that he will refuse to resign if he loses the confidence of parliament, meaning he could pick the general election date if the 14 day period ends with no new government forming.

He would attempt to schedule it beyond the Brexit deadline of October 31, keeping him in power until the UK crashes out of the EU.

If pro-Remain MPs can defeat Johnson in a confidence motion they need to turn that victory into something concrete. If they have no plan for what comes next it's entirely possible that Johnson stays in power and runs down the clock unto a no deal Brexit.

The Counter Claim:

However, a government of national unity would have nowhere near the required numbers to form without Labour, who have indicated that they wouldn't sign up to the idea.

A government of national unity without Labour is a bit like the League of Nations without the United States: missing an important piece and doomed to fail.

Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey said they didn't want to hand Boris Johnson a "get out of jail free" card and the party believes the idea wouldn't be able to command the confidence of the Commons.

Other MPs disagree with her but Labour's position is that their party is the one that needs to have the Commons majority, so they would call for a general election with the intention of gaining said majority and going on to govern by themselves.

Remember, if Johnson is still prime minister after the 14 days are up he gets to choose the election date. He'd almost certainly attempt to pick a time after the October 31 deadline, making Labour's strategy useless at preventing a no deal Brexit.

The Facts:

In the event of any government of national unity it wouldn't be led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is seen as far too unreliable on Brexit to be handed the reins of a government trying to prevent Brexit.

An MP voting to demonstrate a lack of confidence in the government doesn't mean they would necessarily want to be part of a government of national unity or support such an idea.

Parliament has repeatedly voted against the prospect of a no deal Brexit, though that is where the UK is headed. However, the Commons has had a far harder time deciding what it does want after clarifying what it doesn't like.

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