Andrea Leadsom has slipped in the betting odds to be the next Conservative leader after coming a distant second in the first round of candidate voting by MPs on Tuesday.
Leadsom received the backing of 66 MPs, well behind the favourite, Theresa May, who won 165. Michael Gove — who many had written off — did better than expected with 48 votes.
Graham Sharpe, a spokesman for bookmaker William Hill, said that while Conservative leadership battles had a habit of surprising people, May’s position was now strong:
“Although front-runners have historically struggled to win this contest, the early signs are that political punters expect Theresa May to prove an exception to the rule.” He added that May now had a 77% chance in their leadership betting market.
On top of the vote, intense media scrutiny into Leadsom’s professional background has not helped. Reports from the politics blog Reaction and the Times newspaper have both suggested that parts of Leadsom’s CV may be exaggerated, which matters because her experience in the finance sector has been a big part of her leadership campaign.
Iain Martin, Reaction’s editor, said he would publish Leadsom’s CV as soon as he had it. Leadsom has also not published her tax returns yet, while both May and Gove have.
Here are the current odds on the next Conservative leader from the main bookies:
- Ladbrokes: May 2/9 — Leadsom 7/2 — Gove 16/1
- William Hill: May 1/5 — Leadsom 4/1 — Gove 14/1
- Betfair: May 1/5 — Leadsom 9/2 — Gove — 14/1
- Paddy Power: May 1/5 — Leadsom 4/1 — Gove — 16/1
- Sky Bet: May 1/4 — Leadsom 3/1 — Gove — 16/1
Despite her falling odds, Leadsom still has a strong chance of leadership if she is on the ballot when the vote goes to the party members. She is still the favourite among the strongest pro-Brexit proponents, who worry that Theresa May — who campaigned for Remain — might not properly follow through on the referendum result.
The next MP vote is on Thursday, with just May, Leadsom, and Gove still competing.