Boris Johnson’s troubles over the weekend have dented his popularity with political punters, but he remains the overwhelming favourite to become the next UK Prime Minister.
Although his odds have contracted from 1/9 to 1/5 with most bookmakers, he is still a long way clear of his Tory Leadership rival Jeremy Hunt, who can be backed at 7/2. But while most punters betting in this market have been focusing on the two candidates for the leadership of the governing Conservative Party, there are other options.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is available at anywhere between 25/1 and 100/1 with some bookmakers to be the next Prime Minister. This may seem like a token option in this particular market, but although Corbyn is a big outsider, his accession to the top job is not impossible.
Essentially, his chances hinge on a Conservative Party parliamentary meltdown, a scenario that is not that far-fetched. As it currently stand’s, their majority in the House of Commons, even with DUP support, stands at just two. At least two prominent Remain-supporting Tories, Kenneth Clarke and Dominic Grieve, have suggested that they would oppose Johnson as Prime Minister.
Here is where Johnson could get into difficulty. If he doesn’t do enough to reassure potential rebels, he may never get the chance to take office. Technically, Theresa May will be still be Prime Minister, and it is her constitutional duty, when she formally steps down, to recommend a successor who can command the confidence of the House. If it becomes clear that Johnson wouldn’t be able to do that, she may decide to hang on, in which case, chaos would follow fairly quickly.
It is likely that she would face an immediate vote of confidence and equally likely that she would lose. She would then have fourteen days to recommend a Prime Minister who could command the support of the House. It is hard to see how, in those circumstances, that could be anything other than Johnson. If no successor is found, a general election would automatically be triggered.
Of course, Corbyn and the Labour Party are no certainties to win a General Election in the current febrile political climate, but although unlikely, the prospect of the Labour Leader beating Johnson and Hunt to the top job is not quite as far-fetched as you might think.