After the Labour party suffered its worst electoral loss since 1983 in last December’s election, the search for the new leader of the party is well underway. And, according to UK bookmakers, Keir Starmer, the former shadow Brexit secretary, is the clear front runner for the job.
The successor to Jeremy Corbyn will not be officially named until April 4, but bookmakers have installed Starmer as the favourite although his price has dropped slightly from last week.
According to the Head of Political Markets at Smarkets, Sarbjit Bakhshi, Starmer’s main challenger is Rebecca Long-Bailey, widely seen as the favourite of the Momentum wing of the party:
“Rebecca Long-Bailey is the only other contender to touch more than 50% – in the days after Labour’s catastrophic General Election result – and although she has fallen since then, the Salford and Eccles MP remains second-favourite at 27%.”
The other main contenders for the position are Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy and Clive Lewis, but although that means that three out of the five candidates are women, UK punters appear reluctant to back a woman leader of the party. According to Smarkets, the odds on the next Labour leader being a man are around 1.53, with Long-Bailey priced at 3.7, and both Nandy and Phillips at double figures.
But at this stage, many factions of the party have yet to indicate their preference and those odds are likely to fluctuate over the next few weeks. Both of the front runners have strengths and weaknesses. Starmer is viewed with suspicion by some on the left of the party, while the right is concerned that Long-Bailey is Corbyn’s chosen successor and wouldn’t represent a big enough change.
The Labour infighting is good news for the Conservatives, with Boris Johnson now in a position to push Brexit through Parliament. Smarkets report that the odds of Brexit happening in 2020, a market that was once one of the most dynamic for political punters, are now as short as 1.01.