The Tory leadership battle: A lot can happen over the next 8 weeks
Until the 2001 CON leadership race the final decision was taken by MPs and there was no role for the members. So if the current battle had been held under pre-2001 rules Theresa May would now be moving into Downing Street.
Under William Hague’s 1997-2001 leadership the party rules were changed so that members could be involved for the first time. Since then three leaders have been elected but in 2003 no other contenders put their names forward and Michael Howard took over without having the inconvenience of a leadership election.
So we have only two previous CON elections to compare with – 2001 when it was Kenneth Clarke v IDS and the 2005 contest between David Cameron and David Davis.
In the former Clarke, an indefatigable pro European, never looked like a winner and IDS became a 1/10 odds on favourite after the final MP ballot had been staged.
In the 2005 contest Cameron was perceived as being even stronger and at this stage was a 92% chance on Betfair.
So Theresa May’s current betting position is good but nothing like as strong. In my betting I make roughly the same amount on both. The 2001 precedent suggests that views of the EU can be a powerful factor.