October 1, 2019 / 12:32 PM / 2 months ago

No-confidence vote in PM Johnson unlikely until after EU summit - McDonnell

FILE PHOTO: British Labour MP John McDonnell speaks during the Labour party annual conference in Brighton, Britain September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s main opposition Labour Party is unlikely to push for a no confidence vote in the government until after a European Union summit later this month, according to John McDonnell, the second most powerful figure in the party.

McDonnell said his party would hold off so that 21 former Conservative lawmakers could see whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson can secure a revised Brexit deal with the EU at the summit on Oct 17-18, and if he fails, if he will then abide by a law passed by parliament forcing him to delay a departure.

“You have to go at the pace of the coalition,” McDonnell, Labour’s finance policy chief, told reporters. “A large number of people among the 21 Conservatives will obviously want to see whether Boris Johnson brings back a deal of some sort and, secondly, has he then submitted some application for extension.”

Opposition parties are considering trying to bring down Johnson’s government through a motion of no confidence as the only way to ensure that Britain does not leave the EU at the end of October without having agreed a divorce deal.

But the main parties remain in disagreement over how a potential caretaker government could function in the future in the event that Johnson was removed from office.

McDonnell dismissed the idea suggested by the Liberal Democrats of having a temporary government led by a senior member of parliament and not the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“We are not entering a government of national unity,” he said. When asked the Liberal Democrats’ opposition to his plan to impose Corbyn as leader, McDonnell said: “I was brought up a Catholic and I am great believer in the powers of conversion.”

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Michael Holden

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