A Green Party MP has been criticised after suggesting an all-women “emergency cabinet” could meet to try to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Writing in the Guardian, Caroline Lucas said the cross-party group, formed of 10 female politicians, could “bring a different perspective”.
Ms Lucas said the cabinet could organise another EU referendum if the PM is defeated in a no-confidence vote.
But International Trade Secretary Liz Truss criticised the plan as sexist.
Ms Lucas is a former leader of the Green Party, which supports holding another referendum on Brexit, at which it would campaign to remain in the EU.
In her article, she suggested MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit should try to defeat Boris Johnson in a no-confidence vote, then replace him with a “national unity government”.
This arrangement – when a group of MPs from different parties choose to work together – has not been seen since the Second World War.
An all-female cabinet, she suggested, could then “press the pause button” and organise another referendum offering a choice between staying in the EU or the government’s Brexit plan, whether that is an agreed deal or no deal.
Women ‘less tribal’
But her idea was criticised by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, who tweeted: “Is there anything more sexist than claiming your gender determines your worldview/behaviour/attitude?”
Defending her proposal, Ms Lucas told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It is a generalisation and there are plenty of exceptions, but I would argue, generally and in my experience, women tend to be less tribal and tend to find it easier to establish trust more quickly.
“I simply want to see whether or not by bring women together the key women from across Westminster whether or not we could generate a new dynamic,” she added.
“We are facing a crisis. Time is running out.”
Among the women Ms Lucas has invited to join her are Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Conservative MP Justine Greening, and Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts.
The others are: Heidi Allen, Kirsty Blackman, Yvette Cooper, Sylvia Hermon, and Anna Soubry. She has asked to meet the 10 women in the coming days.
On Monday, Ms Lucas told the BBC she had received responses from five of the women she has written to, expressing differing levels of interest.
She also added that her proposed unity government would have to be led by a female Labour MP, as they would be representing the largest opposition party.
She said she wasn’t completely against involving men – for instance accepting that a key anti-Brexit campaigner like Dominic Grieve could be given a cabinet seat.
‘Anger and resentment’
Ms Thornberry tweeted a reply to say she would not be able to take part in the planned talks because she is currently on holiday.
She added that returning the issue of Brexit “to the people” was the “best route to go down at this point”.
“My fear with the other suggested route – imposing some alternative coalition government without any reference to the public – would risk worsening the feelings of anger and resentment towards ‘Westminster’ that have led us into this Brexit mess,” she added.
Ms Saville Roberts welcomed Ms Lucas’s bid to break the deadlock over Brexit, but said she was “not entirely comfortable” that only women would be involved.
Anna Soubry, who leads the Independent Group for Change, said she believed in the “power of women”, but a national unity government should be formed “irrespective of gender”.
Ms Lucas’s suggestion has also attracted widespread discussion on social media, with many people expressing criticism.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott tweeted it “won’t work… whatever the gender of the participants”.
Labour MP Clive Lewis called it a “very interesting proposal”, but asked: “Where are the BAME women politicians?”
Ms Lucas replied to him, saying she agreed that the list should be opened out further and she would love Ms Abbott to be involved.