Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has long been touted as a potential successor to Boris Johnson as the leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore a prospective candidate to enter No. 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister. Sunak has dampened the fires of speculation in a recent interview, suggesting that he is not seeking the top role. That news may be well-received by other would-be contenders to lead the Tories, although they may take Sunak’s claims with a pinch of salt.
In an interview with LADbible, Sunak stated that he is “definitely not interested” in being Prime Minister, claiming that his role as Chancellor was stressful and demanding enough. Nobody will doubt that running the country’s finances is a testing task, but many will find it harder to believe that Sunak wouldn’t accept the job if he had the backing of the bulk of the Conservative Party.
That much is made clear by the latest political betting odds from Paddy Power, as a few days after Sunak’s confession to LADbible he remains the favourite to become the next Conservative leader after Boris Johnson. As of November 19th, Sunak is 21/10 to step into Johnson’s shoes, so his words have evidently done very little to dissuade punters from looking at the current resident of No. 11 Downing Street as a man who has aspirations to move next door.
If Sunak is sincere about his ambitions, then it will be interesting to see who eventually steps up as the new favourite to succeed Johnson. Here’s a look at some of the most striking names in the betting market, where there is an intriguing mix of past challengers and new contenders.
Michael Gove – 6/1
What is notable about Gove’s position in the betting isn’t that he’s the second favourite, as Gove’s designs on being top dog have been painfully transparent over the years. The attention-grabbing detail is his price of 6/1, which is considerably longer than Sunak. That highlights the margin between Sunak and the chasing pack, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer the clear-cut favourite.
Jeremy Hunt – 9/1
Hunt and Gove both sought the leadership of the Tories when Johnson ultimately prevailed, so it is no surprise to see them fancied to try again. Hunt was the last man standing in opposition to Johnson, while he has been much less prominent than Gove in Parliament since that 2019 leadership election. Hunt’s time as a backbencher won’t have damaged his image, whereas Gove will be more closely associated with the struggles of this Cabinet. That may see Hunt end up at a shorter price.
Sajid Javid – 16/1
Sajid Javid should have plenty of backers if he runs again. Like Hunt, Javid would have the benefit of being a cleaner break from Johnson’s administration than Sunak or Gove; this could be an asset if all of these candidates do throw their hat into the ring. Javid’s principled stance in stepping down as Chancellor won him respect in many quarters, a move which ultimately thrust Sunak into the spotlight.
A new face
Dominic Raab (10/1), Matt Hancock (25/1), and Rory Stewart (25/1) all contended in 2019, but the former pair have poor track records in important roles while Stewart lacks the support base. Tom Tugendhat (16/1) is the favourite among the new names, with the MP for Tonbridge and Malling given the role of Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. That makes Tugendhat shorter than the likes of Priti Patel (20/1) and Gavin Williamson (22/1), highlighting how punters view this former British Army officer as an eminently electable politician.
A shock winner
As you move to bigger prices, you find some people that aren’t currently active in the Conservative Party. Nigel Farage (50/1) would certainly be a turn up for the books, although even that wouldn’t be quite as seismic as a return for David Cameron (100/1).
This speculation could all be obsolete if it transpires that Sunak wasn’t at his most honest with LADbible. The betting markets, as well as the media, have clearly landed on the Chancellor as the most likely successor to Johnson. If Sunak rules himself out when the next leadership election comes around, then the Tories may well go back to near men Hunt or Javid to give them their shot.