Jeremy Corbyn has been told there is no time to "muck about with people’s egos" after his plan to become a temporary prime minister in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit was rejected.
The Labour leader has written to the leaders of other political parties and senior backbenchers from across parliament to set out his proposals to stop the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement in 77 days’ time.
He wants to oust Boris Johnson from 10 Downing Street through a no-confidence vote, before forming a caretaker government that would seek a further delay to Brexit and arrange a general election.
Mr Corbyn also confirmed Labour would enter a general election committed to a referendum on the terms of leaving the EU, including an option to Remain.
A group of senior Conservative MPs – Dominic Grieve, Sir Oliver Letwin and Dame Caroline Spelman – have agreed to meet with Mr Corbyn to discuss his proposals, although Sky News understands Dame Caroline wouldn’t support a Corbyn-led government in any circumstance.
And, in her first speech since being elected Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson ruled out supporting Mr Corbyn’s plans.
Instead of doing everything in his power to stop us from crashing out, he is demanding the keys to Number 10 as a pre-condition for a vote of no confidence, said Ms Swinson, who leads 14 MPs in the House of Commons.
We are facing a national crisis, we may need an emergency government to resolve it.
But if Jeremy Corbyn truly wants that to succeed, surely even he can see that he cannot lead it.
There is no way he can unite rebel Conservatives and independents to stop Boris Johnson.
It’s not even certain he would secure all the votes of Labour MPs.
This isn’t about personalities, this is about having a plan that actually works.
Ms Swinson proposed Conservative former chancellor Ken Clarke, or ex-Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, as respected long-serving MPs who could instead lead an emergency government to stop a no-deal Brexit.
She also wants MPs to legislate for a second EU referendum.
Ms Swinson suggested Mr Corbyn in his heart of hearts knows he can’t command a majority in the House of Commons, telling an east London audience: He knows it, everyone in this room knows it, the whole country knows it.
She added: We don’t have time to muck about here with people’s egos.
Of course Jeremy Corbyn wants to be prime minister, so do I, but what we really need to do now is save our country from a catastrophic no-deal Brexit.
The Lib Dem leader, who was joined at the event by the party’s newest MP Sarah Wollaston, declared the country deserves better than a choice between a no-deal Brexit or a Corbyn-led government.
In order to topple Mr Johnson’s government, Mr Corbyn is likely to need the support of Tory rebels during a no-confidence vote.
Conservative former minister Alistair Burt was among a group of 21 Tory MPs who this week wrote to Mr Johnson to urge him to steer away from a no-deal Brexit.
But, asked if he would support Mr Corbyn as a caretaker prime minister in order to avoid the UK leaving the EU without a deal, Mr Burt told Sky News: I’m sure there is a very long answer to this but the short answer is no.
Mr Corbyn’s plans were also met with a lukewarm reaction by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts.
Anna Soubry, the leader of The Independent Group for Change, complained she did not receive the letter from Mr Corbyn as she attacked his preference for a general election over a second EU referendum.
However Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said he would be pleased to work together with the Labour leader.
Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey claimed it was constitutionally right that Mr Corbyn should seek to lead a temporary government, which would not attempt to put in place the party’s favoured policies.
She told Sky News: We’re not looking to implement Labour Party policy, that should be for a general election, for the public to determine who the next government should be and we’ll campaign quite vigorously on that.
Jeremy is the leader of Her Majesty’s official opposition – the next biggest party in Westminster apart from the government.
It seems constitutionally right and sensible that Jeremy should lead that caretaker government.
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery tweeted: Why would anyone be surprised at the @LibDems refusing to meet @jeremycorbyn to avoid a NO DEAL BREXIT?
All other parties are willing. They were so so so cosy being in bed with the Tories dishing out right wing policies damaging our people & communities. Let’s not forget!
On Thursday, a flock of sheep was herded past government buildings in Whitehall, London, by campaigners for a second EU referendum.
The launch of Farmers For A People’s Vote aimed to highlight concerns about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on agriculture.
We are in a state of utter trading madness if we crash out of Europe, said Dr Sean Rickard, a former chief economist of the National Farmers’ Union.