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‘Father’ lines up John(son)

With a majority of one, Johnson is vulnerable to a challenge if carefully planned

By Amit Roy in London

  • Published 18.08.19, 1:19 AM
  • Updated 18.08.19, 1:19 AM
Boris Johnson during a speech on domestic priorities at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, England, on July 27, 2019.
Boris Johnson during a speech on domestic priorities at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, England, on July 27, 2019. (AP)

Boris Johnson has not been in 10, Downing Street, for even a month (complete with girlfriend Carrie Symonds and some hastily bought new furniture) but already there is some serious talk of ousting him in a no-confidence motion tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and installing a caretaker Prime Minister.

This is seen as a possible way to prevent a no-deal Brexit of the kind that has been championed by Johnson by the cut-off date of October 31.

The only problem for Corbyn is while some Tories are willing to support his no-confidence motion, they do not want to see him made Prime Minister. Instead, there is growing support for the “father of the House of Commons”, Ken Clarke, who, at 79, is now its longest serving member, having been elected for Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire in 1970.

Usually described as “genial” and “avuncular”, the carelessly dressed Clarke has served over the decades as chancellor of the exchequer, home secretary, Lord Chancellor and justice secretary, education secretary and health secretary. He voted Remain in the EU referendum.

With a majority of one, Johnson is vulnerable to a challenge if carefully planned.

Clarke has indicated he would be willing to do the job if that was what the Commons wanted.

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “If it was the only way in which the plain majority in the House of Commons that is opposed to a no-deal exit could find a way forward... I wouldn’t object to it, if that was the judgement of people, the only way forward.”

He added: “I don’t want to annoy Jeremy because he’s a key figure and he’s got to play a key role but he’s wrong about the convention. He becomes Prime Minister if he wins a general election, which I don’t think he ever will.”

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