Gordon Brown is warned today that he cannot expect to succeed Tony Blair without a fight for the job of leading the Labour Party and Britain.
After a critical week in the transition of power between No 10 and the Treasury, one left-winger said she was prepared to be "humiliated" to ensure a contest. Lynne Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, said she would reluctantly stand against the runaway favourite if no one else came forward.
"I have no enthusiasm for humiliation. But I do think there should be a contest and if all else failed and no one put themselves forward then I would," she said.
Her intervention comes amid mounting fears among Labour MPs and rank-and-file members that they will be denied a say in who leads the party after Mr Blair steps down. The last remaining Cabinet challenger to the Chancellor, John Reid, in effect stepped aside last week.
And in a further sign that the "stable and orderly transition" is almost complete, it emerged that Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, is smoothing Mr Brown's path to power.
Mr O'Donnell was instrumental in winning agreement from Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, and Mr Reid for the Chancellor to make speeches on terrorism and defence last week, according to Whitehall officials.
However, Ms Jones, a leading rebel, said Mr Brown should face a challenge on green issues as well as on his public service reforms. One possible candidate with environmental credentials, the former minister Michael Meacher, declined to rule himself out, saying: "I have said that there should be a contest and that is as far as I am going."
* The World Trade Organisation is doomed unless the stalled development round can be restarted within the next two months, says Alan Johnson. In an interview with the IoS, the Trade Secretary says Tony Blair is pressing for a meeting of world leaders for a last-ditch effort at rescuing a deal that would help millions.Reuse content