AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

Next Prime Minister

The coup – for now – appears to be off but Theresa May is still, according to many, in the last days of her Premiership, with her potential resignation apparently a condition for MP’s to support her Brexit Deal, with precious little time to get a deal over the line, with a very long Extension (upto two years) or even worse (in the eyes of many) a No Deal exit writes William Kedjanyi.

If – and Star are shorter about it then we have been for a long time – she does go, there will be a fierce contest to succeed her as Prime Minister, and just like with our other political markets, if it moves, you can bet on it.

Let’s take a look at the contenders.

Next ‘Permanent’ Prime Minister:

Michael Gove (7/2)

Hotly tipped for the leadership after the Referendum, Gove is a Brexiteer (an important advantage for an upcoming Tory leadership race, given their overwhelmingly Leave membership), and has outperformed admittedly low expectations at DEFRA, bringing perhaps his best performance in Cabinet during the past two years.

Gove’s stabbing of Boris Johnson in the back two years ago – when he break his word and launched his own campaign to become the next prime minister, leaving Boris Johnson, who he has known for decades stunned, and defeated – could weigh heavily on his standing with members, although there are a great many MP’s who probably were very relieved he didn’t make it.

Boris Johnson (5/1)

Perhaps the man who has been running for the Tory Leadership longer than all others combined, Boris has two significant stumbling blocks to his ambition to be Prime Minister; the first is other Tory MP’s. His numerous leadership moves against May, especially at the last Conservative Party conference, have not endeared him to many, especially when most of the Party was still united around May (and still are, going by her victory in a Vote of No Confidence only in December).

However, should he make it to the final two, then he would have to be a strong favourite to win a Tory Party leadership contest.

An election however? That is tougher, and his second stumbling block. His stint at the Foreign Office was disastrous, with the reputation of the Foreign Secretary something that Jeremy Hunt is now rebuilding still.

Johnson could count on Leave support through the country, but could he go gaffe free for six weeks or more? Impossible. And what polices would define his Premiership? London was a long time ago and people feel differently about him now; 64% disagree Boris Johnson ‘has what it takes to be a good PM’ according to IPSOS Mori.

Jeremy Corbyn (8/1)

The one-time favourite in this market, Corbyn beat low expectations by a quite wide margin in the snap election of 2017, but there is a growing opinion that may well have been his best chance. The Labour leader thrived upon campaigning, providing an enthusiastic and energetic counterpoint to what was a robotic campaign from May, aided by an extremely flat manifesto.

The Labour offering – their most progressive for quite a while – did much better than expected but since then much of the shine has gone from his image, with Brexit triangulation harming his reputation and the party, and demographics are a difficult subject for him too. A new swathe of newly eligible young voters could give him a boost, but the large amount of target seats needed to take, a majority voted Leave two years ago.

Of Labour’s 64 targets, 45 are seats in Leave-voting England and Wales, while 18 target seats are in Remain-voting Scotland. With the SNP dominant north of the border, and likely only to grow after Brexit, Labour will have to go toe to toe with Conservatives on what one might call enemy territory, and that is a tremendous task.

Jeremy Hunt (9/1)

A long time Cabinet minister – was the longest serving health secretary in the history of the NHS, despite many run ins during his time at the head of the service – Hunt’s promotion to Foreign Secretary has put him in a better position, with Boris Johnson having set an incredibly low bar to pass. That is fortunate timing for a man who had always been seen a s Eurospectic, but who was a Remain campaigner in 2016. He’s changed position since and – bar an embarrassing likening of the EU to the Soviet Union – has largely managed to avoid too many Boris like incidents.

Interestingly, he is one of few 2016 Remainers to poll well amongst Conservative Party members – he is the third most popular in terms of Net Satisfaction ratings in the Cabinet – so he would be competitive if making it to the final two. His record at the head of the NHS could come back to bite, during an election, however.

Sajid Javid (11/1)

Another person who was a surprise Remain campaigner, Sajid Javid became the first home secretary from an ethnic minority background in April, following Amber Rudd’s resignation over the Windrush scandal.

His tough stances on immigration, and particularly the case of Shamima Begum, have proved very popular with the party membership, and that could cancel out a close relationship with George Osborne too. His campaigning skills are untested at a General Election level, but it is interesting to note that he has the best net response to the question ‘does X have what it takes to be a Good PM with IPSOS Mori.’

Dominic Raab (11/1)

The Esher and Walton MP had already been a hardened Eurosceptic when he became part of the Leave campaign in 2016, and was then the Brexit secretary before he resigned in November over The Deal. He wants May gone and is clear about that being the case; The issue is his party standing (where he gets support from is not obvious, although he probably has less of an issue than Johnson) and then potentially going to the country.

David Lidington (12/1)

Has been mentioned a lot – he was supposedly the man set to replace May in the aborted coup over the weekend – he has a long record of Cabinet experience, but that would not work in his favour during a leadership election. The 62-year-old supported Remain at the 2016 referendum and played a key role in David Cameron’s failed renegotiation effort prior to the Brexit vote, and both those might anchor him if he seeks a mandate at all.

The Rest

It is impossible to imagine Labour having another leader apart from Corbyn before the next General Election. Of the other Cabinet attendees, Amber Rudd (25/1) and David Gauke (125/1) are likely too on the Remain side to win a Leadership contest, and Gavin Williamson’s helter skelter time at defence has not impressed other MP’s who have nominations in their gift.

Jacob-Rees Mogg’s (25/1) tactic acceptance of the Deal (conditional to DUP backing) will mean he takes a hit with the membership, and whether he wishes to run is up for debate. Penny Mourdant (40/1) is relatively liked but not nearly as much as Liz Truss (100/1) who would be backed strongly if she managed to make it to the final two.

For a long shot, consider Matt Hancock. The 40-year-old was a Remainer in 2016 but has gone under the radar until taking the reigns at the NHS. How he gets on with a tough job remains to be seen, but he’s already attracted plenty of attention and has a relatively clean record with both party and public.


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