Rishi Sunak The New PM Bookie Favourite

October 16, 2020

- Grant Whittington

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is rumoured to be on his way out of office – and the man said to be the favourite for next-in-line is none other than Rishi Sunak.

Rumours over the possibility of Johnson’s exit from Number 10 have been circulating for quite some time now, with some even suggesting a possible departure as soon as January next year. A finalised Brexit, say those supposedly in the know, is the only remaining target holding the PM in office for a few more months.

Sunak Knows His Way Around Money

Sunak’s latest status follows an extended time spent trailing behind Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Such was the position trading in U.K. betting odds for months on end. This appears to have been a status dependent on Starmer only replacing Johnson at the next national election. But since Johnson now seems ready to make his exit way ahead of schedule, the entire dynamic appears to have shifted in favour of one of Johnson’s current cabinet ministers stealing the leadership show from Starmer. And the stealer of the show, it appears, is the former banker.

What hasn’t at all hurt Sunak’s chances is his position in cabinet at a particularly challenging time for many of the U.K.’s citizens – and especially so from an economic point of view. His crisis-diverting economic package deployed through the first wave of infections has earned him a position of respect among Tory members of parliament.

In fact, talk of a second wave of infections appears to have been the ultimate flipper of the odds in favour of the former banker.

PM’s Exit Booked By Surge

Talk of a possible second wave is at the same time also what seems to have set in stone Johnson’s early departure. And along with the threat of a No-Deal Brexit, Johnson doesn’t seem in any way likely to stay on past January / February next year.

The possibility of a non-exit, coupled with Johnson’s hard approach in an effort to curb the spread of infections now threatening to spark a second wave, has the current British Prime Minister swinging on the tethers dangling from odds of 2/1 in favour of Sunak nabbing the top job. Starmer has in the meantime been demoted to odds of 3/1, leaving Tory cabinet minister Michael Grove hovering at 7/1.

A Difficult Balancing Act

Johnson’s three-tier strategy is clearly playing second fiddle to Starmer’s suggestion of a two week-long “circuit breaker” approach on the popularity front. This has led the labour leader to rally in support of Sunak delivering a second economic package meant to see the country through a second surge of extreme financial worry.

The support for a shortened approach in terms of once again shuttering most major industries has done much in terms of holding Johnson’s hard approach to the bench – or at least for the moment. Instead of a total stay-at-home national slam-dunk, local authorities will now be receiving alert levels classified Medium, High, or Very High. Rescue money will only be made available to those municipalities falling into the last and most desperate of the three categories.

Johnson’s Big Gamble

For Johnson, toying about against the advice of medical experts and scientists, who are mostly calling for a hard and tenacious national approach, could mean temporary popularity but at the same time also a major career gamble in the long run.

Johnson will obviously be banking on a nation able to weather the storm without a national disaster approach. But odds or no odds, only time will tell whether this will have been good or stupendously disastrous for his career.

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