UK betting sites believe Rishi Sunak is gearing up to fight an election next summer, but still don’t think he has a chance of beating Sir Keir Starmer in the battle for No.10.
Sunak’s popularity recently sunk below that of Liz Truss during her time as prime minister and the current Conservative leader is running out of time to save his premiership.
The latest date Sunak can call an election is January 2025 and there has been a growing assumption that he would hold out for as long a parliament as possible.
However, in recent days UK bookmakers have begun to shift their odds on when they think Sunak will be out of a job – and now it looks likely that 2024 will be his final year in frontline politics.
According to one political betting site Sunak has more than a 60% chance of leaving Downing Street next year.
The markets also reckon he has just a 14% chance of winning the next election.
Rishi Sunak Odds
BetMGM have been the first to shift their odds on Sunak’s exit date. It’s not good news for the PM.
His odds of 13/20 to be ousted in 2024 suggest there’s almost a two-in-three chance Sunak is gone by next winter.
Remarkably, a general election is not the only way Sunak could surrender his premiership.
There is a growing rebellion bubbling away within the Tory parliamentary party, with many right-wing MPs shifting their support to former foreign secretary Suella Braverman.
Tory party rules dictate that a leader can be challenged if 15% of the party’s MPs demand a confidence vote.
There are 350 Conservative MPs in Westminster, so 53 letters would be needed in order to challenge Sunak.
Could Suella Braverman oust Sunak before the next election? It’s unlikely at this stage but the Conservatives have a habit of toppling their leaders at a moment’s notice and Sunak is not immune to party machinations.
Can Sunak Beat Starmer?
Sunak could be gone from Downing Street either via insurrection or electoral defeat. However, there remains a slim chance that he stays on as PM.
Right now, that would only happen if the Conservatives win a majority at the next UK general election.
It’s highly unlikely that Labour, the Lib Dems or the SNP would prop Sunak up in a coalition government.
Sunak needs to move the polling dial and reduce Labour’s 19-point lead. That’s currently proving very difficult.
At the start of the year Sunak promised to halve inflation, cut NHS waiting times, stop small boat crossings in the Channel, grow the economy, and cut debt.
He’s achieved one of these aims and inflation remains eye-wateringly high at 4.6%.
Sunak needs to offer something more to the British public to get their votes. Otherwise he will limp into the election cycle.
That’s not to say Labour have this election in the bag. Starmer has struggled to convince the left of his party that he will deliver real change should he come to power. Labour are promising fiscal frugality akin to chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s budget.
Labour have already dropped spending pledges and now there is concern they will keep aspects of the Conservatives’ highly-controversial Rwanda deportation scheme.
Starmer has also been criticised by trade unions for praising Margaret Thatcher, in an evident attempt to woo Tory voters.
There’s a risk that Labour, in seeking to attract right-of-centre votes, end up losing support from the left of the party.
Starmer is sitting pretty on a commanding poll lead now and would ideally want a general election tomorrow.
Sunak could deliver it earlier than Labour once feared – but don’t be surprised if the polls narrow once campaigning gets underway.
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