Tory Leader Odds: Sunak Surges as Race to Become PM Heats Up

(Bloomberg) -- Four candidates remain in the battle to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the UK Conservative Party and Prime Minister, as betting firms adjust their odds during the leadership contest.

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Tory MPs held their latest ballot on Monday in the race to elect a new premier, with former soldier Tom Tugendhat knocked out after receiving the fewest votes. The four remaining contenders must be whittled down to two before Parliament goes on its summer recess on Thursday. One more candidate will be eliminated from the run-off on Tuesday and the final vote by Conservative Members of Parliament is on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the two finalists to campaign in hustings around the country for the votes of up to 180,000 Tory party members. The results will be announced on September 5 but many members may get send off their postal ballots long before then.


Ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak, whose resignation helped trigger the prime minister’s downfall earlier this month, is the favorite to succeed Johnson according to Sky Bet, which will pay out 5/6 on him to be the next Tory premier. Sunak looks almost certain to make the top two after securing 115 votes in the third ballot, up 14 on last week and just 5 short of the 120 he needs to clinch his place in the final run-off.

Other sites have Sunak’s odds lower - he’s evens at Betfair, according to Oddschecker.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, a darling of the party grassroots who has drawn comparisons to Margaret Thatcher, is second-favorite to succeed Johnson at odds of 9/4 on Sky. Truss, who gained 7 votes for a total of 71 in the third leadership ballot, will be heartened by closing the gap on Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, her closest rival for second-place.

Mordaunt, viewed in the party as having strong pro-Brexit credentials, charisma and good leadership qualities, is the third most likely candidate at 9/2 after coming in as runner-up on 82 votes in the latest ballot. Mordaunt, who finished last week as favorite to succeed Boris Johnson, lost some of the momentum behind her campaign on Tuesday after losing one supporter.

Former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, the final candidate vying for the keys to 10 Downing Street, gained more new votes than Truss and Mordaunt on Tuesday. Still, she has a sizable deficit to make up in less than 24 hours if she’s to progress further, making her an outsider for the position at odds of 16/1 on Sky.

Despite mounting speculation of a general election this year, bookies suggest a national vote is more likely to happen in 2023 or later.

Odds from betting on politics should be taken with a pinch of salt. In markets terms, they reflect the views of retail investors, rather than professionals who spend their lives analyzing these things. Still, they give strong clues about what will happen next in the Tory leadership race.

(Updates odds and political developments throughout.)

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