Never in UK politics has betting for the leadership of the two main parties been so wide-open. Not even close. However while the race to be the Next Conservative Leader garners endless chatter, Next Labour Leader barely gets a mention nowadays.
This could be the opportune moment to pay attention. With Brexit threatening to unravel the party system, a possible election looming and Jeremy Corbyn polling terribly, 2019 could also be very dramatic for Labour. This political betting market was highly active during Corbyn’s first two years as leader and may be about to spike again.
Let’s recap. First Corbyn was dismissed as a 24/1 no-hoper to win the leadership. When challenged by Owen Smith in 2016, even money was available before an easy win. Written off as electoral poison before the 2017 election, Labour’s comeback confounded betting markets. At one point they hit 100-1 to get 35% before ending up with 40.
During each episode, various potential successors were backed off the boards. Beside Smith, best odds about Yvette Cooper, Keir Starmer and Clive Lewis all went below 4/1. Now, only Emily Thornberry is below 10/1. All four will likely remain contenders until the job becomes vacant – whenever that is.