Ignoring the polls and laying the favourite for the next Tory leader has been consistently a profitable route for nearly half a century.
The picture above is from ConHome’s regular polling on the next Tory leader from October 2015, Osborne would lead for five months in a row, yet he failed to become David Cameron’s successor.
Now people might argue Osborne’s prominent role in the Remain campaign put the kibosh on him succeeding David Cameron but he’s not the first favourite to fail to become Tory leader. David Davis, Michael Portillo, Ken Clarke, Michael Heseltine, and Willie Whitelaw, all of those were usurped by someone who a few months was considered a rank outsider, such as John Major, IDS, William Hague, Margaret Thatcher, and David Cameron. David Davis in particular will remember that in June 2005 he was the odds on favourite at 1/2 to be Michael Howard’s successor.
Back in November 2015 I wrote that winning the Tory leadership is often more about who you aren’t rather than who you are, and it isn’t hard to see a stop Boris or JRM candidate winning by default.
My assumption is that the next Tory leadership contest won’t be until 2019, so it might be wise to look at the current leadership polling and betting markets and assume whoever leads and is the favourite won’t be Theresa May’s successor. Just look at the odds on the next Tory leader in October 1974, a little over three months later the 50/1 outsider won.
— BBC Parliament (@BBCParliament) October 10, 2014