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Next Prime Minister Odds: Johnson on the ropes, 2/5 to go this year

| 15.01.2022

Next Prime Minister odds after Johnson apology

Boris Johnson had a torrid 2021 despite fathering another child and the signs are that 2022 won’t be much better after the Prime Minister was forced to apologise for attending a gathering in the garden of 10 Downing Street during England’s first lockdown.

Johnson’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds had sent an e-mail encouraging staff to “bring your own booze” to the event on May 20, 2020 “and make the most of the lovely weather” at a time when such meetings were forbidden.

People were allowed to leave their homes to spend time in public spaces outdoors, subject to “not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household”.

Johnson stayed at what he believed was a “work event” for around 25 minutes on May 20, 2020 to “thank groups of staff”, but “with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside”.

The revelation has gone down badly with the public, the opposition and some of his own Conservative MPs who have demanded his resignation, as reflected in the next Prime Minister odds.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross called for him to quit, saying that Johnson’s position “was no longer tenable” and “I don’t think he can continue as leader of the Conservatives”.

Veteran backbencher Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, accused the PM of misleading Parliament and that politically he is “a dead man walking”.

He said: “You don’t have bring-a-bottle work events in Downing Street, so far as I’m aware. I think the time has come for either the Prime Minister to go with dignity as his choice, or for the 1922 Committee to intervene.”

Under party rules, the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, is required to call a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister if 54 Tory MPs submit a letter to him calling for one.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis even claimed Johnson does not believe he broke Covid rules, despite a dozen apologies in the House of Commons, and that the public should wait for the report of senior civil servant Sue Gray into what happened before reaching a judgment.

Last-chance saloon for PM

Johnson has lurched from crisis to crisis in the last six months and the latest revelation comes on the back of the Owen Paterson lobbying affair which was then superseded by the Christmas parties scandal from 2020 followed by a crushing defeat in the North Shropshire by-election.

Conservative support in the ultra-safe seat collapsed as the Lib Dem candidate Helen Morgan sailed to victory by 5,925 votes, in another body blow to the Prime Minister’s battered authority.

The odds on Johnson being replaced as leader of the country in 2022 were 4/1 back in May but that price has now been slashed to 2/5 and he is also 1/3 not to be the Prime Minister at the next General Election which is scheduled for 2024.

A poll for The Times by YouGov, which was carried out before Johnson’s apology at Prime Minister’s Questions, put Labour at a 10-point lead ahead of the Tories for the first time in nearly a decade.

Attention is already turning to his possible replacement, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak the clear favourite in the next Prime Minister odds at 15/8.

Sunak was notably absent from a packed Commons chamber for Johnson’s first public response to the leaked e-mail, spending the day away from London in Devon, but he said the PM “was right to apologise” without offering his unwavering support.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, 4/1 second favourite in the next Prime Minister odds, tweeted that “I stand behind the Prime Minister 100% as he takes our country forward”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was scathing about Johnson’s behaviour, claiming that “the party’s over, Prime Minister. The only question is will the British public kick him out, will his party kick him out, or will he do the decent thing and resign?”

Despite Labour’s lead over the Tories in some of the polls, Starmer has drifted out to 7/1 to become the next leader of the country.

Ladbrokes’ Jessica O’Reilly said: “Johnson is on the ropes as far the odds are concerned, and bets are coming in thick and fast for Sunak to replace him as PM this year.”

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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication

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Author

Warren Barner