Jo Swinson accuses Jeremy Corbyn of “aiding” the government, but Labour claim Lib Dems are “childish and irresponsible”.
A row has broken out between Labour and the Liberal Democrats over the timing of a no-confidence motion in new Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has accused Jeremy Corbyn of “aiding and abetting” a Conservative Brexit by refusing to immediately push for such a vote.
Labour has hit back, accusing the party of “childish and irresponsible game-playing”.
As leader of the opposition, Mr Corbyn is the only person who can trigger a vote that would cause the collapse of the government under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
But the Labour leader has made clear that he is against an immediate parliamentary showdown.
Mr Corbyn said on Tuesday – when Mr Johnson’s victory in the Conservative leadership contest was confirmed – that he would put down a motion of no-confidence “when appropriate to do so”.
This position was reiterated by a Labour spokesman on Thursday, who described such a vote as a “nuclear option”.
They added that the party would only move when they were sure that enough rebel Tory MPs would support the motion to allow it to pass.
“As Jo Swinson knows, a no-confidence vote now will only strengthen Boris Johnson’s hand and further his march towards no deal,” the spokesman said.
“This is childish and irresponsible game-playing by the Lib Dems who are more interested in attacking Labour than stopping no deal.”
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Parliament breaks up for the summer recess today, with MPs returning in early September.
This means that Mr Johnson is safe from a no-confidence vote until then.
There have been calls from opposition MPs for a vote, because of the new PM’s willingness to pursue a no-deal Brexit if necessary.
Ms Swinson said Mr Johnson “does not hold a mandate from parliament or the general public to be prime minister”.
In a letter to Mr Corbyn, she said: “His [Mr Johnson’s] reckless refusal to rule out proroguing parliament in order to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal demonstrates that he is not fit to lead this country.
“As the Leader of the Official Opposition you are the only person in the position to call a vote of no confidence in the new prime minister.
“We therefore urge you to do so immediately.
“You must not sit back and allow this government to crash our country out of the EU.
“We implore you to take action and call for a vote of no confidence.
“It is vital that we work together to secure a people’s vote with the option to stay in the EU.”
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Ms Swinson has also tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM), signed by her Lib Dem colleagues in parliament, expressing no confidence in Mr Johnson.
It says: “This House has no confidence in the prime minister; rejects the option of the UK crashing out of the EU; and rejects the option of parliament being prorogued before Friday November 8 2019.”
However the move is purely symbolic, given EDMs are traditionally used to highlight issues and are not voted on by MPs.