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18 July 2014

Angela Eagle backs Harman to become deputy prime minister under Labour

Shadow leader of the House of Commons says no "reason whatsoever" why deputy leader should not do job after reports she could be denied it.

By George Eaton

Harriet Harman’s recent lecture on parliament and equaliy, in which she argued that she would have become deputy prime minister had she been a man, prompted speculation over whether she would hold the position in a future Labour government. Last year it was reported that Ed Miliband would abolish the role if he became prime minister, but Harman’s speech was a clear signal that she would like it. 

In response to her comments, a Labour spokesman said: “As Harriet made clear, Labour’s focus is on winning the general election. Any announcements on cabinet posts will wait until after the result”, leaving open the possibility that she could be denied it.

But one person who believes she should take on the role if Labour wins next year is Angela Eagle. When I interviewed her earlier this week, the shadow leader of the House of the Commons and the chair of the party’s National Policy Forum (which opens in Milton Keynes today) told me there was no “reason whatsoever” why she shouldn’t do the job. 

Eagle rightly noted it was “for Ed” to decide, but in a clear endorsement of her colleague, she added:

She’s the deputy leader, she has her own mandate, directly-elected in the Labour Party, I was one of the people that supported her. She’s been a doughty performer for women by her own experience, by the example that she’s given since the early 80s. She’s a great feminist, she’s a fantastic communicator for the Labour Party and I don’t see any reason whatsoever why she shouldn’t be the deputy prime minister in a Labour administration.

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If momentum gathers behind the idea that Harman should do the job it will be harder for Miliband to scrap it.