Under Boris Johnson the Tory poll lead seems untouchable. Untroubled by queues for petrol, supply chain issues, inflation increases, regular scandals, foreign policy mishaps, the list of things which sunk previous governments but barely scratches this one goes on and on. Many people conclude, quite reasonably, that Johnson is central to this appeal and under him the Tories are strong favourites to win another majority at the next election.
So why do bookies think there is a 1 in 3 chance he doesn’t even fight the next election? It’s madness.
Prime Ministers are replaced mid-term quite commonly. Cameron was, Blair was, Thatcher was. And, of course, Johnson replaced Theresa May mid-term in 2019. But PMs tend to need something big to force them out. Cameron lost a referendum. May lost a majority and then ended up unable to pass anything (Brexit or otherwise really) through parliament. Blair and Thatcher lost momentum after three election wins apiece.
What comparable issue is dogging Johnson? Nothing, that’s what.
With an 80 seat majority and only two years on the job there is no major threat facing the current PM. Blair had Brown hanging over him for years, Johnson faces no comparable internal challenger. Thatcher had pissed off half her party by the time they confronted her: the Tory MPs Johnson split with all ceased to be Tory MPs in 2019.
A theme I often mention in these articles are journalists and the betting markets focusing on exciting scenarios and overstating their likelihood. What a great example we have here. Last year I wrote that you should bet on Johnson surviving at least a couple of years in office. It is even more of a no-brainer to bet on him fighting the next election at these odds.
While it is true that his poll lead has varied a lot, from 20% to near even at times, and the mood will change a lot if the Tories fall consistently behind – even in those circumstances I’d be shocked if he was forced out.
Boris Johnson means many things to many people, but to Tory MPs he represents above all else a strong electoral track record. Mayor of London, the Brexit Referendum, the 2019 Election: He won them all and his personality was front and centre every time. The chance of him being deposed before another election is at most 10% in my view. Fill your boots on these odds (1/2 at William Hill, 2/5 elsewhere) if you are willing to wait a couple of years.
Odds correct as of Friday 8 October
Pip Moss posts on Political Betting as Quincel. He has bets on Johnson fighting the next election. You can follow him on Twitter at @PipsFunFacts