Johnson’s position as PM is looking increasingly precarious and there’s been a fair bit of betting activity on the next CON leader market.
With the longstanding perceived “heir apparent” Sunak flopping last month other names have edged up with currently the man who got beaten by Johnson in 2019, ex-health Sec Jeremey Hunt, now in the favourite slot. He’s closely followed by Tom Tughendhat who has never held a ministerial position and Liz Truss.
DefSec Wallace, who is regarded as having a “good war”, is the other current cabinet minister who is in the top group.
A general rule of leadership contests is that the contenders who are most unlike the outgoing or ousted incumbent tend to do well. Thus it was that BJ succeeded TMay three years ago.
The first requirement for there to be a contest is that there is a vacancy and Johnson has made it clear that he will have to be forcibly removed and will not resign of his own accord. That then requires a confidence vote amongst Tory MPs and my sense is that we are closer to seeing such a move now than at any time during the Johnson leadership. It could be that the aftermath of the May 5th elections is the trigger.
Tory MPs have to be sparing about the use of leader confidence votes because if the ballot goes with the incumbent then he/she won’t have to face another challenge for a year.
The big loser if the Tories do change leader would be Starmer. Anyone other than Johnson would be harder to beat in a general election.