Scotland politics

Boris Johnson no-confidence vote could be next week, says SNP MP Stewart Hosie

Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds arrive at a hotel ahead of the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester, on 28 September 2019 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds arrive in Manchester ahead of the Conservative Party conference

A vote of no confidence in the government aimed at replacing Boris Johnson as prime minister could be held next week, a senior SNP MP has said.

Stewart Hosie told the BBC such a move may be the only way of avoiding a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon hinted on Friday she might back Jeremy Corbyn becoming a "caretaker" prime minister.

The Liberal Democrats have, however, said the Labour leader is too divisive a figure to play such a role.

Mr Johnson has arrived in Manchester ahead of the opening of the Conservative Party Conference on Sunday.

He is expected to tell delegates that only a Tory government will deliver on the result of the 2016 EU referendum.

MPs have refused to back the prime minister's demand for a snap general election until no deal is taken off the table.

Image copyright House of Commons
Image caption Stewart Hosie suggested a no-confidence vote could be tabled as early as Monday or Tuesday

Mr Hosie said there was growing concern that Mr Johnson may find a way of circumventing the so-called "Benn Bill" which requires him to seek an extension to the UK's departure date if no deal has been agreed.

The aim of a no-confidence vote would be to install an interim prime minister who would secure a short Brexit delay and then call a general election.

"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 Today programme.

"If we are serious about the extension that is the only game in town."

Labour leader Mr Corbyn said on Saturday recent talks with opposition parties had been "productive" and the prospect of an emergency government was becoming "more likely every day".

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Media captionCorbyn: Emergency government 'more likely every day'

Asked if he was ready to be an interim prime minister he 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."

In a separate interview on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Hosie suggested a vote could take place as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Mr Hosie, a former SNP deputy leader, acknowledged such a plan would need the agreement of opposition parties and Tory rebels in order to succeed.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has said Mr Corbyn is too divisive a figure to lead an "emergency government"

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has said an "emergency government" may be necessary but argued that MPs from all parties would not be able to unite around Mr Corbyn as a temporary leader.

She said her party had suggested other MPs as possibilities, including senior MPs who are planning to step down at the next election.

Mr Hosie said: "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.

"But it is also self-evidently the case that the second largest party (Labour) 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, get on board with everybody else."

Pre-agreed plan

A motion of no confidence in Parliament allows MPs to hold a vote on whether they want the government to continue.

If the government loses the vote, MPs have 14 days to express their support for an alternative government.

If an alternative government cannot command a majority in the House of Commons in that time, a general election could be held.

Mr Hosie stressed it was vital that opposition parties had a plan in place to secure a Brexit extension before triggering a no-confidence vote.

"If that is not in place and effectively pre-agreed, then we might end up having the general election on Boris Johnson's terms and allowing him to run down the clock and crash out without a deal."

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