Next Labour Leader Betting: Burnham Leads Streeting To Replace Starmer
Andy Burnham is the favourite to replace Sir Keir Starmer as the next Labour leader – but betting sites don’t think a switch at the top of the party will happen any time soon.
Starmer is under the spotlight as Durham Police continue its investigation over whether he broke social distancing rules for having a curry while campaigning in the north east last year.
Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner have promised to “do the right thing” and resign if they are fined over what the media has dubbed ‘beergate’.
With Labour leading the Conservatives by six points in the polls, losing their leader now would likely be a big blow for the opposition – especially as much of their poll lead has been built thanks to the Tory government’s own sleaze issues.
Yet placing Burnham as the most likely successor to Starmer indicates that the bookies are confident the current leader is not on the verge of losing his job.
Who Will Replace Keir Starmer?
Political betting sites have priced Burnham as the frontrunner to replace Starmer but the 52-year-old would need to be an MP for this to be a possibility.
Labour would have to parachute him into a safe seat but with no by-elections upcoming in comfortable Labour areas, he may have to wait until the 2024 general election.
Even then, Burnham standing as an MP again would signify an evident desire for him to lead the party – just as Boris Johnson’s decision to quit as London mayor and return to Westminster in 2015 paved his way to Tory leader.
Next Labour Leader Odds
And that’s because Burnham isn’t currently a member of parliament. The Manchester mayor may have supporters from across the breadth of the party, but not being an MP means he cannot lead Labour in the House of Commons.
And so the fact he is the favourite to replace Starmer suggests UK bookmakers are confident the incumbent will keep his job for the foreseeable future.
Were Starmer to lose the Labour leadership before the next election then alternative candidates will jostle for his post. Amongst them are Wes Streeting (6/1), Lisa Nandy (6/1) and Rachel Reeves (7/1). All three are loyal to Starmer and are in his shadow cabinet.
Streeting has seen his odds come in from 18/1 to the new price of 6/1 over recent months thanks to a boost in his media profile. The shadow health secretary is considered a centrist option for the party – but it is that bridging over the divide which could win Labour an election.
Nandy has recently condemned reports Starmer is “succession planning” as “absolute nonsense” but the shadow levelling up secretary, who ran for the leadership in 2020, would be a lead candidate were there to be an opening at the top.
How Starmer Could Lose His Job
Starmer has pledged to resign – along with his deputy Rayner – if they are fined by Durham Police for breaking social distancing rules. The 59-year-old recently handed back his police questionnaire, and now must play the waiting game.
Should he be fined then he will quit, and this will trigger a leadership contest. There have been three Labour leadership battles since the party was last in power under Gordon Brown in 2010. Ed Miliband succeeded Brown to become opposition leader but failed at the 2015 election. Corbyn lasted four years but, after almost denying Theresa May the right to rule in 2017, was crushed at the 2019 election.
Keir Starmer, who is 9/2 to be the next Prime Minister comprehensively won the 2020 leadership battle but began life as head of the party in Covid-19 lockdown. It’s taken two years for the ex-director of public prosecutions to carve even a small poll lead over the Tories.
Some in Labour worry he hasn’t exploited the Conservative sleaze scandals as much as he could have. Labour’s poll lead is fragile. But with Starmer gone the party risks being a “basket case” once again – and that’s why betting sites have no real idea who could replace him.
Next Labour Leader Candidates
Even if Starmer doesn’t resign over beergate, the bookmakers are pricing up who will eventually replace the Labour leader. Here, we look at the main candidates should the job become available…
Burnham was MP for Leigh between 2001 and 2017 before he stood for the Manchester mayoral post. He won that vote comfortably and was re-elected in 2021 with an increased share of the ballots.
Burnham had stood for the Labour leadership in 2015, only to be beaten by Jeremy Corbyn. He was seen as an identikit centrist politician then, but has built a strong reputation across the north of England thanks to his work as Manchester mayor.
For Burnham to be Labour leader he would need to return to Westminster. Conservative James Grundy is the current MP for Leigh, with a majority of less than 2,000 over Labour’s Jo Platt. Could Burnham run again here? Quite possibly.
Another figure with growing influence outside of London, Nandy is tasked with holding Britain's levelling up minister Michael Gove to account. She is an impressive politician and has been MP for Wigan since 2010. Her briefs have already spanned children and young families, energy and climate change, and foreign affairs.
Nandy, like Starmer, represents a break from Corbynism and could be well placed to succeed the incumbent leader. She is a centre-left politician and was against the Brexit vote. Despite her Brexit stance she is considered a strong link between the Labour party and its lost voters from the 2019 election. At 6/1, she has justified her place amongst the Labour leader frontrunners.
Another 6/1 frontrunner, Reeves – as shadow chancellor – has been in the dog fight that is Britain’s economy for the past year. She has been Leeds West MP since 2010 and is another figure who didn’t run for a front bench position under Corbyn.
Reeves has a tough brief. With the economy shrinking and inflation on the rise, she is tasked with coming up with palatable alternatives to whatever decisions Rishi Sunak makes. Having forced the government into a number of U-turns, Reeves admits she runs her team like they’re “in government”.
The worse the economy gets, the better her chances of being the next Labour leader become.
Best Of The Rest
Labour has been in opposition for 12 years and it could still be two more until they return to power. There is a lot of political talent that has been unable to fully flourish – and were a leadership contest to begin then we’d likely see a big uptake in interest.
Deputy leader Rayner is 7/1 to be the next leader but she wouldn’t stand if Starmer and her resign over beergate. So, like Burnham, it’s likely that Rayner’s only chance of becoming Labour leader rests a few years down the line. The same can be said for Sadiq Khan, the current mayor of London, who is priced at 33/1.
Yvette Cooper is perhaps Labour’s most experienced front-bench figure in Westminster, having worked as housing secretary and then pensions secretary under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. At 12/1 she is a viable candidate, and certainly electable.
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