Ann Widdecombe favoured as next British ambassador to Vatican

Ann Widdecombe

Ann Widdecombe

The UK's Coalition Government is likely to appoint former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, as the next British ambassador to the Vatican, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, are understood to have endorsed the nomination, which will be sent to the Vatican for final approval before an announcement is made later in the summer.

If Ms Widdecombe accepted the role, she would be the first Roman Catholic woman to be appointed to the post and will succeed Francis Campbell, the current ambassador, who steps down this autumn. Mr Campbell was the first Catholic to hold the post. He was appointed by Tony Blair in 2006.

The post, which comes with an official residence in Rome, was created after the Reformation, yet was not given ambassadorial status until 1982.

A fluent Latin speaker, Ann Widdecombe converted to Catholicism in 1993 after the Church of England voted to ordain women priests.

Born in 1947, Ms Widdecombe served as MP for Maidstone and the Weald for more than 20 years. She retired two years ago.

Source: Sunday Telegraph/wwwAnnWiddecombe