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State & Ceremonial

Dame Margaret Beckett ‘looking likely’ to be appointed as The Queen’s 15th Prime Minister

MikePaws via Flickr CC & Chris McAndrew/ UK Parliament

Senior backbench MP Dame Margaret Beckett is emerging as the favourite candidate to oust Boris Johnson from Downing Street and become a Prime Minister of national unity.

Dame Margaret, who was first elected as a Labour MP in 1974, is the preferred candidate to form a government of national unity according to opposition sources speaking to ITV.

The plan to back Dame Margaret to Number 10 still needs to gain the endorsement of Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, however.

Currently, Boris Johnson’s Conservative party has no overall majority in the House of Commons.

When taking into account their confidence and supply agreement with the DUP, Boris Johnson has a majority of minus 43 – far short of the 326 seats he needs to safely govern.

This means, if opposition MPs group together and back an alternative government, they can go to Buckingham Palace and declare their confidence in another MP.

For example, if theoretically all 247 Labour MPs backed Margaret Beckett, as did the 35 SNP MPs, 18 Liberal Democrat MPs, and around 30 other MPs who are independent or from smaller parties, they would have 330 backers – a majority in the House of Commons.

However, for this plan to go ahead, Jeremy Corbyn must throw his support behind another MP.

Usually, it would be the Leader of the Opposition himself who would have the first opportunity to ask The Queen to form a government should the incumbent one collapse, however, Mr Corbyn would struggle to find the numbers himself.

Many opposition MPs are now desperate to find a candidate to become caretaker Prime Minister for the period towards the end of October to avoid leaving the European Union without a deal.

At the moment, Dame Margaret Beckett is the favoured person to do so.

Other possible unity PMs include Father of the House of Commons Ken Clarke, and Mother of the House Harriet Harman.

In her 67 years as monarch, The Queen has never before appointed a Prime Minister of national unity. It is still looking unlikely that she will do so, however, the idea is being seriously considered.