There’s a strong chance that there could be a Tory leadership contest within the next year and a quarter

February 3rd, 2014

It could be earlier if there’s a post EURO2014 nervous breakdown

The publication of the latest CONHome survey on preferred next party leader is a timely reminder that we could be just 15 months away from a vacancy occurring.

One thing that we know about the Conservative party is that it is pretty unsentimental when it comes to failing/failed leaders.

If Dave doesn’t manage to bring home the goods on May 7th 2015 then it’s hard to see him lasting very long. Even the party securing most seats in the general election might not be enough to save him. Cameron still gets the blame for failing to get a majority last time.

The move could happen much earlier even in the next few months. Coming third in the May Euros might just be the trigger that causes a confidence vote in the Parliamentary Party. That happens when 46 CON MPs write private letters to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee demanding such a vote as happened in October 2003 in the move that ousted Iain Duncan Smith.

The process then is for a secret vote to take place which Cameron would have to win to avoid facing a leadership contest.

    Ultimately everything depends on whether the party believes that it would do better at the General Election with somebody else at the helm.

My own view is that the party would be foolish to change the leader at this stage. All the polling points to Cameron being an asset to his party in terms of electability.

This, of course, impacts on so many betting markets. I’ve got 7/1 with Hills that Cameron will go before Clegg and 16/1 with PaddyPower that he’ll face a confidence vote and lose.

As to the next leader I’m on Theresa May and Philip Hammond at longish odds.

Mike Smithson

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