Next Conservative Leader Betting: Who Will Succeed Boris Johnson?

Next Conservative Leader Betting: Who Will Succeed Boris Johnson?

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Some political betting markets never stop. No sooner have we settled a Tory leadership contest and the bookies are betting on who will succeed Boris Johnson. Who knows - with the new PM likely to face a No Confidence vote as soon as parliament emerges from recess, this could be settled within months.

That, to be clear, is not my view. As explained in my previous piece "Who Would Win a Snap General Election?", my current estimate is that Johnson’s Conservatives will comfortably win most seats in any imminent election. However with the outcome and impact of Brexit extremely uncertain, making confident predictions about anything after October 31st is fraught with risk.

Johnson’s Future Depends Almost Entirely On Brexit

One way or another, Brexit will define Johnson and his legacy. If failing to deliver it, he’s finished and perhaps too his party. If the short-term is catastrophic, as so many critics warn, that will finish him sooner or later, even if enough it doesn’t prevent him securing an election win before the worst fallout. If deemed a relative success, Johnson will be a hero on the Right and probably be able to choose his date of departure.

So lets consider the criteria for would-be successors in each scenario. If failing to deliver Brexit, expect a mass defection of members to the Brexit Party or whatever vehicle Nigel Farage creates next. They could lose hundreds of seats. It is unclear what would happen to opinion among the remaining Tory members. Calculations would be restricted to those who haven’t defected, with safe seats.

PM And Allies Reputations Could Sink After Disorderly Brexit

In the catastrophic no deal scenario, it could ruin the reputations of those responsible - Johnson and most of his Cabinet. The beneficiaries could be those who didn’t endorse him - whether that be a less-defined Brexiter like Penny Mordaunt or a supporter of the Withdrawal Agreement like Rory Stewart.

Even if Johnson does deliver Brexit without the sky falling in, I doubt he’ll serve a long term as PM. Up to five years. The doubts that most of his colleagues held before, bizarrely, forgetting them to rally around during the leadership contest, will resurface. His place in history has always been more important than the day-to-day business of government.

If leaving before the end of a first full term, we are looking for somebody who would be a senior minister at the time of his departure, who could take over as PM and lead the party into an election in around 2024/25.

The early favourite with the best political betting sites is Sajid Javid, who landed an 8/1 tip to become Chancellor of the Exchequer. From the second highest position in government, he evidently has a chance but are the Tories ready to elect a Muslim leader? I’m sceptical. Moreover if there is a post-Brexit recession, his reputation could flounder.

Stewart Is Probably In The Wrong Party

Stewart is also prominent. No doubt, he emerged as a frontline politician during the contest. If Brexit turns out badly, his stock will rise further. He is the natural leader of the liberal wing of the parliamentary party. Whether that liberal wing will ever constitute anything approaching a majority, however, is doubtful. He’s the new Ken Clarke - the Tory loved by those who don’t vote Tory.

Foreign Secretary is a good platform from which to build a leadership bid - the last two finished top-two in the last contest. That’s a positive for Dominic Raab - somebody who I’ve long regarded as the long-term leader of the Brexiter, populist Right of the party and prematurely backed for leader.

Raab has a problem, though. His reputation stems from being the purest Brexiter in the Cabinet - the first to resign after the Chequers circus. If Brexit happens relatively smoothly, Johnson takes the credit and politics moves on. If it isn’t smooth, the ultras may be blamed and their influence decline.

His best chance would involve Johnson failing to deliver Brexit and being replaced by another ultra. I don’t think that will happen so am happy to wait and see how Raab’s career develops.

Likewise, Home Secretary is a tremendous platform. Priti Patel is already using her new powers for populist gestures that will play well with the Tory base - particularly the loud, influential faction in the press. In truth, I’ve never regarded her as leadership material - even more on message than the Maybot at its worst - but 25/1 with Bet Victor is a price with scope.

Tugendhat Widely Regarded As Leadership Material

The pair I really like are both 33/1. Both are young enough and in safe enough Tory seats to surely be on the scene whenever the next contest emerges.

Tom Tugendhat was expected by some to jump into the last contest as he is certainly leadership material. This 46 year-old articulate former soldier oozes competence and moderation, compared to his colleagues.

Tugendhat didn’t back Johnson and is therefore outside the Cabinet. That gives him distance to build his reputation and to avoid any fallout from the administration. Mark my words - he will run next time and be a fraction of these odds. He's an interesting bet at 33/1 with Royal Panda

Williamson To remain A Highly Significant Figure

33/1 about Gavin Williamson with Coral is surprising and perhaps reflective of his discreet role. The influence he has obtained by the age of 43 is extraordinary - taking much credit for the last two successful Tory leader campaigns.

Formerly Chief Whip to David Cameron, Williamson was credited with a key role running Theresa May’s campaign in 2016 and went on to become Defence Secretary, before being sacked just before she resigned.

Williamson’s decision to endorse Johnson was, in my view, a gamechanger. The front-runner went from around 30 endorsements to 80 in no time. The Daily Mail report Tory MPs complaining he blackmailed them by threatening to reveal their secrets.

It is not the first time he has been likened to Frank Underwood. The main House of Cards character first sought the Education brief before making his move. Perhaps relishing the comparisons, Williamson’s reward is Education Secretary. Watch his moves like a hawk.

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