I’m not generally a betting man; I make an appearance at my local bookie once a year to put a few quid each way on the Grand National but that’s about it normally. However, I couldn’t resist putting £10 on Theresa May at 6-1 to become the next permanent leader of the Conservative Party. I tried to get odds at Ladbrokes on her becoming the next Prime Minister because in all likelihood the next Tory Leader will become the next Prime Minister as David Cameron has already stated that he will step down before the next General Election; the odds might have just been a little longer but they were unable to offer odds on that outcome.
Still, 6-1 seems like fantastic odds and to understand why you need to understand the Tory Leadership process. WestminsterAdvisors describe it thus:
The Tories’ process for picking a leader is twofold: Conservative MPs narrow the field to two choices, before a postal ballot of the wider membership of the party is conducted.
The Chairman of the 1922 Committee, which represents Conservative MPs, acts as the returning officer for leadership elections. Graham Brady is currently serving in this post. The Conservative Whip receives nominations from members of the House of Commons, and the deadline is noon “on a Thursday”.
If one nomination is received, the new leader is declared elected. If two nominations are made, both names go forward for the members of the party to decide between. In the event that three or more MPs are nominated for leader, a ballot of Conservative MPs is held “on the Tuesday immediately following the closing date for nominations”. The ballot is held under the first past the post system. If MPs are choosing between four or more candidates, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and further ballots are held on subsequent Thursdays and Tuesdays until only two MPs remain.
The wider membership of the Conservative party then chooses between these two MPs, with the vote being held via a postal ballot. The returning officer chooses the date by which ballots have to be returned and the count begins at noon that day. The result is announced at a meeting of the parliamentary party and “representative members”.
Conservative members of Parliament will decide which two candidate’s names will go on the ballot for Conservative Party members to vote on. While the other two main leadership favourites, George Osborne (5-1) and Boris Johnson (2-1), are kicking lumps out of each and exaggerating the case for the Remain and Leave campaigns in the EU Referendum, feisty filly Theresa May could be set to pip them to the post. The Home Secretary, while ostensibly wanting to remain within the EU, has made no substantive comment with regards to the referendum other that to indicate that in her view the UK should leave the European Court of Justice.
Regardless of the EU referendum result the Conservatives will be a divided party and Tory members of Parliament are likely to view Theresa May as the unity candidate and the party membership may well reach the same conclusion. George Osborne now seems unlikely to have enough support within the Party membership even if he makes the ballot, whereas Boris Johnson is unlikely to have enough support within the Parliamentary Party to govern comfortably, remember Iain Duncan Smith’s brief leadership of the Tories.
Naturally, nothing is certain in politics and anything might happen but Theresa May has positioned herself very nicely and as long as she doesn’t do something stupid like alienate the party membership with a outrageous last minute public intervention in the EU debate, she looks to be in with a very good chance.Even if she isn’t yet the favourite, much better than 6-1 in my opinion and therefore worth a punt.