Jeremy Corbyn has struck out at Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson after she rejected his plan to lead an emergency government to thwart a no-deal Brexit.
The Labour leader said: “It’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who the next prime minister is going to be” after she swiftly dismissed his proposal to force a general election as “nonsense”.
Ms Swinson was under increasing pressure to back Mr Corbyn’s suggestion that included forcing out Boris Johnson in a vote of no confidence and securing an extension to the Brexit deadline beyond October 31.
But she maintained her stance that he was not the right politician for the job, despite agreeing to meet with him to discuss a no-deal prevention plan.
On Friday, Mr Corbyn said: “It’s not up to Jo Swinson to choose candidates, it’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who the next prime minister is going to be.
“Surely she must recognise she is a leader of one of the opposition parties who are apparently opposed to this Government, and apparently prepared to support a motion of no confidence.
“I look forward to joining her in the lobbies to vote this Government down.”
Ms Swinson has instead tipped Tory grandee Ken Clarke and senior Labour MP Harriet Harman to lead the emergency government.
She said she has spoken to the pair – who are Father and Mother of the House – and won their assurances they are ready to “put public duty first” to “stop us driving off that cliff”.
However, Mr Corbyn’s plan has won the potential backing of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Tory MP Guto Bebb.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was among those applying pressure to Ms Swinson to re-think her position.
Senior Remain-supporting Tories Dominic Grieve and Sir Oliver Letwin, as well as independent MP Nick Boles, have also agreed to meet Mr Corbyn.
But Dame Caroline Spelman and the Independent Group for Change ruled out support for any Corbyn government.
Also on Friday, a source close to Dame Caroline dismissed any chance of her meeting with Mr Corbyn, despite the MP’s name appearing on a letter suggesting she was open to talks.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Sajid Javid was to become the first senior member of Mr Johnson’s Government to meet with an EU leader to discuss Brexit, during a trip to Berlin on Friday to see German finance minister Olaf Scholz.
Despite the deadline looming, the Prime Minister has refused to meet the bloc’s leaders for discussions on a new deal unless they agree to scrap the Irish backstop.
Plaid, SNP and Conservative MPs have responded positively to Jeremy Corbyn’s Caretaker Government offer by confirming that they are willing to meet.
“Jeremy has offered the surest way to prevent a No Deal Brexit. Any opposition party leader or MP rejecting this offer will carry the responsibility for allowing a No Deal disaster and will never be forgiven,” insisted Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell.
Who are potential caretaker PMs Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman?
They hold the titles of Mother and Father of the House as the longest continually-serving male and female MPs, but what more do we know about the touted contenders? And could they command enough MPs across the deep political divides of the House of Commons?
The Conservative grandee earns the Father title having first been elected to Parliament in 1970 in the Nottinghamshire constituency of Rushcliffe.
He has held multiple senior cabinet roles, including chancellor under John Major and health secretary under Margaret Thatcher.
The 79-year-old has made three bids to become Conservative leader, but has failed each time in part because of his pro-EU viewpoint.
But it is this stance that has now seen him tipped as a potential caretaker prime minister to halt a no-deal under Boris Johnson.
However, he is yet to publicly comment on whether he wants the role and said in June that he is “minded” not to stand again in the next general election.
A much-liked figure, the solicitor spent eight years as Labour’s deputy leader under Gordon Brown and then Ed Miliband.
The 69-year-old was first elected as Peckham’s MP in 1982.
Under Tony Blair, she went on to become secretary of state for social security, solicitor general and the first ever minister for women.
She also twice became acting leader of her party, first following Mr Brown’s resignation in 2010 and then after Mr Miliband’s in 2015.
But Ms Harman is also yet to announce whether she would take on the role of caretaker PM.