With a cross-party group of MPs successfully passing legislation to instruct the government to seek an Article 50 extension rather than go for no deal, the Prime Minister could be forced to seek a Brexit delay if he cannot agree a deal. However, Boris Johnson has said on numerous occasions that he will do no such thing. There’s chatter in Tory circles that if No. 10 cannot find a way around the legislation, he could either resign or be brought down by MPs and an attempt then made to form a letter-writing government of national unity. This government’s sole aim would be to seek a Brexit delay before going into a general election (or second referendum depending on who you speak to).
But who to lead it? Jeremy Corbyn has put himself forward but Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson was quick to kibosh the idea. Meanwhile, the Labour leader has made clear he would not support Swinson as a caretaker PM. It follows that talk has turned to an experienced backbencher with both Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman in the frame. However, Mr S understands that the candidate rising in popularity for the role is Margaret Beckett. ‘Everyone is coming around to Margaret as the most acceptable candidate,’ says Mr S’s rebel alliance mole says of the 76-year-old pro-EU Labour stalwart.
There’s a view in Labour circles that Corbyn cannot allow a Tory to do the deed. Of the Labour candidates, Beckett is viewed as the least threatening. After all, the former foreign secretary actually nominated Corbyn to be Labour leader – even if she did later say she was a ‘moron’ for doing so.