Mcdonnell: I’ll send Cor­byn to Palace to stop no-deal Brexit

Shadow chan­cel­lor ac­cused of drag­ging Queen into pol­i­tics by say­ing Labour may de­mand power

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Harry Yorke, Si­mon John­son and Camilla Tominey

JOHN MCDONNELL last night threat­ened to drag the Queen into a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis by claim­ing Labour would “take over” if Boris John­son re­fused to quit were he to lose a con­fi­dence vote.

The shadow chan­cel­lor sug­gested he would send Jeremy Cor­byn to Buck­ing­ham Palace “in a cab” to tell the 93-year-old monarch the party was ready to as­sume power, in the lat­est sign that MPS seek­ing to stop a no-deal Brexit are plan­ning to em­broil Her Majesty in pol­i­tics as they run out of par­lia­men­tary op­tions.

Mr Mcdonnell was also ac­cused of form­ing an “un­holy al­liance” with na­tion­al­ists in Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land af­ter he claimed that he would not stand in the way of a ref­er­en­dum in ei­ther coun­try to split up the UK.

He told an au­di­ence at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe that if the Prime Min­is­ter re­fused to step down in the event of los­ing a con­fi­dence vote, Labour would de­mand that the Queen ap­point Mr Cor­byn in­stead.

“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,” he said.

David Starkey, the his­to­rian, said Mr Mcdonnell’s threat would amount to a “coup”, adding: “I’m afraid Mr Cor­byn would be ar­rested. The dis­guise has come off John Mcdonnell – he’s a rev­o­lu­tion­ary com­mu­nist.” His sen­ti­ments were echoed by Iain Dun­can Smith, the for­mer Tory leader, who said of Labour’s at­ti­tude to the Queen: “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.”

Mr Mcdonnell’s com­ments came as Michael Gove said the Gov­ern­ment was do­ing “ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble” to en­sure Bri­tain left the EU on Oct 31, deal or no deal. On a visit to Dover, Kent, the Chan­cel­lor of the Duchy of Lan­caster, who is in charge of no-deal prepa­ra­tions, said: “At the mo­ment, the EU ap­pear to be putting up the bar­ri­ers, say­ing that they don’t want to talk.

“I’m sure they will change their mind, I hope they will change their mind, but we are ready to leave on Oct 31, deal or no deal.”

Hopes were raised yes­ter­day that Ber­lin might open the door to talks with Mr John­son, as fig­ures showed a de­cline in Ger­many’s fac­tory out­put, in­creas­ing fears of a re­ces­sion.

How­ever, EU diplo­matic sources said that while Ger­many was keen to talk, there would not be any move­ment un­less Mr John­son dropped abo­li­tion of the Ir­ish back­stop as a pre­con­di­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Mr John­son is likely to face a con­fi­dence vote when the Com­mons re­con­venes next month.

Un­der the Fixed Term Par­lia­ments Act 2011, if a gov­ern­ment loses a con­fi­dence vote, there are 14 days in which an al­ter­na­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion must win a fresh vote, or else a gen­eral elec­tion must be called. But the timing of an elec­tion could be de­cided by Mr John­son, who could wait un­til af­ter Oct 31 be­fore go­ing to the polls to thwart any at­tempt to stop Brexit.

Down­ing Street sources point to James Cal­laghan, the only post-war prime min­is­ter to lose a con­fi­dence vote. He stayed in No 10 for more than a month un­til he lost the 1979 gen­eral elec­tion. Con­sti­tu­tional ex­perts are braced

for a chaotic pe­riod to­wards the end of Septem­ber when var­i­ous MPS are pre­par­ing to de­mand the Queen in­ter­venes to ap­point an­other prime min­is­ter who can com­mand the con­fi­dence of the Com­mons.

Although there are prece­dents for var­i­ous sce­nar­ios, the ex­is­tence of the Fixed Term Par­lia­ments Act and the im­pend­ing Brexit dead­line may mean the Queen faces calls to in­ter­vene.

Mr Starkey said the “rushed” leg­is­la­tion had “turned Par­lia­ment into a mere playpen”, adding: “The Queen has de­lib­er­ately de­cided not to ex­er­cise her royal pre­rog­a­tive of dis­cre­tion. She has made a con­scious de­ci­sion not to in­volve her­self in pol­i­tics. There is only one per­son from whom the Queen can take con­sti­tu­tion­ally bind­ing ad­vice and that is the Prime Min­is­ter.”

David Howarth, pro­fes­sor of law and pub­lic pol­icy at the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge and a for­mer Lib­eral Demo­crat MP, said it was “un­likely” the Queen would in­ter­vene, while Robert Lacey, a royal his­to­rian, said: “The Queen has a hor­ror of be­ing dragged into pol­i­tics.”

Do­minic Grieve, the for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral, has been at the fore­front of ef­forts by rebel Tory MPS to urge the Queen to “dis­pense with Mr John­son’s ser­vices” in favour of a gov­ern­ment of na­tional unity, say­ing: “The Queen is not a dec­o­ra­tive ex­tra.” He made the sug­ges­tion af­ter Do­minic Cum­mings, Mr John­son’s chief strate­gist, sug­gested the Prime Min­is­ter could de­lay an elec­tion un­til af­ter Oct 31.

In an un­prece­dented move, Mr Cum­mings yes­ter­day hit out at Mr Grieve, who ear­lier this week branded him “arrogant and ig­no­rant”, telling re­porters: “We’ll see what he’s right about.” Re­turn­ing fire last night, Mr Grieve told The Daily Tele­graph that as a spe­cial ad­viser Mr Cum­mings had “no busi­ness mak­ing such ut­ter­ances”. He said: “I’m not quite sure who is run­ning the Gov­ern­ment, him or Boris John­son.” His com­ments were echoed by Sir Mal­colm Rifkind, the for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary, who said in­ter­ven­tions by “un­elected of­fi­cials” risked “weak­en­ing the au­thor­ity of the Gov­ern­ment”.

Ear­lier in the day, Sir Mal­colm warned in a let­ter to The Times that Mr John­son “would cre­ate the gravest con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis since the ac­tions of Charles I led to the Civil War” if he re­fused to re­sign.

Mr Mcdonnell re­it­er­ated his state­ment on Tues­day that a sec­ond Scot­tish independen­ce ref­er­en­dum was up to the “Scot­tish peo­ple and the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment” af­ter be­ing told by Richard Leonard, the party’s Scot­tish leader, that re­vis­it­ing the is­sue was “un­wanted” and “un­nec­es­sary”.

Say­ing block­ing a sec­ond poll would play into Ni­cola Stur­geon’s hands, Mr Mcdonnell said: “We will cam­paign against a ref­er­en­dum but we are not us­ing par­lia­men­tary de­vices to block it.”

Asked if he backed an Ir­ish uni­fi­ca­tion ref­er­en­dum, he said that should be deter­mined “by the lo­cal peo­ple ... and that’s what we’ve got to re­spect”. Last night, Mr Gove said Labour was “willing to de­stroy the union in its at­tempt to over­turn the ref­er­en­dum”, and DUP MP Nigel Dodds ac­cused Mr Mcdonnell of jeop­ar­dis­ing the peace process.

John Mcdonnell, the shadow chan­cel­lor, speaks at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe, where he sug­gested Labour would pres­sure the Queen if Boris John­son lost a con­fi­dence vote

Do­minic Cum­mings, spe­cial ad­viser to the Prime Min­is­ter, ar­riv­ing at Down­ing Street yes­ter­day

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