How the betting moved ahead of the 2016 race
We all know the truism from Conservative leadership contests that the person who most likely seems to be the successor never gets it. Michael Heseltine, Michael Portillo and David Davis would no doubt attest to the difficulty of being the long-term favourite
I love looking at historical betting charts showing how punters were observing and risking their money on a big political outcome in the past where we have the betting data.
The chart is from 2016 race which was triggered after David Cameron announced his resignation on the morning after the Brexit referendum. Within hours of that announcement the money rushed onto to Boris Johnson in the successor market and at one stage he touched 54.5% on the Betfair Exchange. Clearly there were many who thought he was a certainty. In the end, of course, he didn’t run.
I set this out because once again with talk of a possible leadership contest being fairly imminent Johnson is heading the betting though not on anything like the scale that he was three summers ago.
I just wonder whether he is actually going to achieve his objective – whether he has made too many enemies on the way. Currently this is a very delicate political situation for the Conservatives and the mood can change rapidly. There’s also the small matter of his relative lack of support amongst Tory MPs although one would assume that the hardline ERG group would give him their support.
This might be the moment for someone who’s currently not being seriously considered as a contender . There’s a little bit of a movement for James Cleverly as well as the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. There’s also said to be Esther McVey waiting in the wings. I have bets a very long odds on all three.
The big question is when is this going to take place and judging by reports it is hard to see how Mrs May can survive much longer although she is an incredibly determined woman.
There is a move to change the rule that gives her 12 months immunity following the December 2018 confidence vote which she won. There’s a strong argument for saying that these were the rules and those who forced the confidence motion at that time must have known of them. The Tories could be moving on to dangerous ground if they change things just because that would suit the politics of the moment.