Friday June 7th marks the final day of Theresa May’s troubled tenure as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party and it also signals the start of what could be a gruelling leadership contest that is set to dominate the political conversation for the next six weeks.
Nominations for the position of Conservative Party Leader open at 17:00 on Friday and remain open until Monday evening, with the first ballot scheduled for June 13, and the imminence of the serious part of the contest seems to have concentrated minds among pundits and political punters alike, with several front-runners tightening in price and a number of outsiders drifting.
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson dominates the field and the betting in the Conservative Leadership markets. Having being initially priced up at the 7/4 mark when May announced she was stepping down, Johnson’s odds have continued to shorten and if you want to back the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, you’ll have to take odds of 4/6 currently.
It is no secret that Johnson is the favourite of Tory members, but his problem has always been a lack of popularity among his fellow MPs, many of whom were unimpressed by his time at the Foreign Office, where he made a number of gaffes and appeared to struggle to get to grips with the job. He has been uncharacteristically quite of late, a tactic that appears to be working for him.
His main challenger at this point appears to be his nemesis, Michael Gove, the man who ended his last leadership campaign in 2016. Gove has been steadily shortening in the market and is now a solid second favourite at 6/1, while former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (8/1) is also still in contention.
The big drifter at the moment is former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. Raab had been as short as 4/1 towards the end of May, but with Johnson and Gove in the race, it was always going to be hard for other Brexiteers to make much of an impact, and Raab’s cause has not been helped by comments on LGBTQ issues or his suggestion of suspending Parliament to push through a No-Deal Brexit. Raab has drifted to 33/1 and appears to be running out of time to get back into contention.