Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have “no grip on reality”, according to Jeremy Corbyn as he rubbished their plans for Brexit.
The Labour leader tore in to the two MPs hoping to succeed Theresa May as Conservative Party leader, while also warning they have no mandate to “force a disastrous hard-right Brexit” on the country.
He added that Labour will work to block a no-deal Brexit, before noting: “Whatever Brexit plan the new Tory leader comes up with, after three long years of failure, they should have the confidence to go back to the people and let them decide the future of this country.”
Mrs May said the EU member states have reiterated their desire to “avoid a disorderly Brexit” and committed to work “constructively” with her successor as prime minister.
She maintained no-deal Brexit preparations were continuing as it is the default legal option on October 31, before insisting she has “done everything” to avoid the UK leaving the EU without an agreement.
The Prime Minister steered clear of telling MPs what Mr Johnson or Mr Hunt should do, or could achieve, in further talks with the EU when challenged by MPs.
Mr Corbyn, responding to an update from Mrs May on the latest European Council meeting, claimed the Government has “wasted” the three years since the 2016 EU referendum before asking: “Does the Prime Minister now regret that instead of warning of its disastrous implications, she continued to legitimise the idea of no-deal?
“The two Tory leadership candidates are still saying that if they can’t renegotiate the backstop, which the EU leaders said was not possible last week, then they would pursue a no-deal exit.
“Will the Prime Minister tell us whether she believes no-deal should be on the table as a viable option and, in her view, what would be worse, crashing out with no deal in October, or putting this issue back to the people for a final say?”
He said neither Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt nor Mr Johnson have a “credible” Brexit plan, adding: “It is deeply worrying that those who seek to lead this country have no grip on reality.”
Mr Corbyn also said: “Whoever the next prime minister is, they will barely hold the support of this House, so they certainly have no mandate to force a disastrous hard-right Brexit on this country.”
I wanted to leave the European Union on March 29 with a deal. If (Mr Corbyn) and his colleagues had voted with the Government on that we'd already be outTheresa May
Mrs May replied: “The European Council meeting I attended did not discuss Brexit, no-deal, or the views of the leadership candidates in the Conservative Party’s leadership election, which is what the Leader of the Opposition focused the majority of his comments and questions on.”
The PM said she was “in a generous mood” so would go beyond the scope of the statement to answer the questions.
Mrs May added: “I wanted to leave the European Union on March 29 with a deal. If (Mr Corbyn) and his colleagues had voted with the Government on that we’d already be out.
“I’ve done everything to avoid a no-deal Brexit by voting for a deal three times this year. He’s done everything to increase the chance of no-deal by voting against a deal every time.”
Mrs May, responding to the divorced from reality remark, said this was in fact Mr Corbyn, as he believes the “economic model we should be following is Venezuela”.
Outgoing Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable referred to the two Tory leadership contenders as he asked about the chances of renegotiating a Brexit deal with the EU.
He said: “With one of her potential successors likening the EU to the Soviet Union and the other likening it to Nazi Germany, did she pick up any sense amongst European leaders that they will reciprocate the warmth and goodwill emanating from her party by making any modification in the terms of Brexit that she negotiated over such a long period of time?”
Mrs May replied: “What I found from those sitting around the table is that they look forward to working with my successor to ensure that we (can) find a resolution and ensure that we in the UK are able to deliver on the vote of the British people.”
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) called for the next prime minister to re-table the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to be debated by MPs, noting it was “full of major concessions” to Labour’s positions and he hoped if brought back to the Commons his colleagues would vote for it.
Mrs May, in her reply, said her Government had “stood by” commitments to adopt compromises.