Betting was so fierce that Ladbrokes cut Mr Redwood's odds from 8-1 to 6-1 within moments of his announcement, making him third favourite behind Michael Heseltine and the Prime Minister.
Last week Mr Redwood was a 66-1 outsider. Yesterday morning his odds were slashed from 33-1 to 8-1 as Ladbrokes took pounds 10,000 worth of bets.
William Hill cut Mr Redwood's odds from 25-1 to 12-1 after taking pounds 3,000 in bets, and later to 10-1. A spokesman said that not a single bet had been placed yesterday morning on Mr Major.
Ladbrokes odds: 4-5 Major, 5-2 Heseltine, 6-1 Redwood, 8-l Michael Portillo, 12-1 Gillian Shephard. William Hill odds: 4-5 Major, 2-1 Heseltine, 5-1 Portillo, 10-1 Redwood, 16-1 Shephard and Kenneth Clarke.