Solihull MP Lorely Burt is set to become the first female deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.
She looks likely to take on the high-profile role after storming ahead in the contest to elect a new deputy leader among the party’s MPs.
It follows the resignation of the previous deputy leader, Simon Hughes, who has become a Justice Minister.
Although the Liberal Democrats are part of the Coalition, the view within the party is that the deputy leader should remain outside government.
Ms Burt has been nominated by 24 of the party’s 56 MPs, and would require the support of 29 to be sure of a majority.
She is a former prison governor who went on to set up her own business offering training services. Ms Burt won in Solihull, previously a Tory stronghold, in 2005, and held it with a wafer-thin majority of 175 in 2010.
Also standing for the deputy leadership post is Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, who is believed to have far fewer nominations.
She said, “With me as deputy leader, local people would have a stronger voice than ever. They’d know that if they told me about a problem on their doorstep on Friday, I’d be knocking on doors about it at the highest levels of government on Monday.
“I would also stand up for the Liberal Democrat Party’s core values of fairness and economic responsibility, which the Conservatives and Labour are incapable of delivering on their own.
“As we draw the battle lines for the next General Election against both the other major parties, I want to see the Liberal Democrats continuing to deliver more jobs, lower taxes for ordinary workers, and a fairer start in life through free school meals and help with childcare.”
No timetable is yet in place for the election, Lib Dem officials said.