Eton, the City, Lambeth Palace? Bookies close bets on next Archbishop

Flurry of support for former oil boss suggests CofE may have a new leader

A former oil executive who has been an Anglican bishop for only a year and is strongly opposed to gay marriage is rumoured to be on the verge of being named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes suspended betting on Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, following a flurry of bets that he is to be the 105th head of the Church of England and leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion worldwide.

Lambeth Palace declined to comment on suggestions that an announcement, which would initially come from Downing Street, could be made as soon as Thursday this week after a lengthy selection process which was last month deadlocked over its shortlist of successful candidates.

The Right Reverend Welby, initially considered a dark horse for the post, would represent a marked swing towards the traditionalist wing of the Anglican faith compared to his predecessor, Dr Rowan Williams, an instinctive liberal who worked hard to prevent a schism over the issues of female and gay bishops.

Ladbrokes shortened the odds on Bishop Welby to 1-2 favourite after receiving what it said was a sudden rise in bets, including several for hundreds of pounds, on its book on the next Archbishop.

Betting was later suspended on all candidates and Ladbrokes tweeted: “Money suggests that @Bishopofdurham has got the job.”

Bishop Welby, an Old Etonian, is an evangelical and will be seen as a doctrinal conservative. He was an outspoken proponent of the Church’s opposition to gay marriage but he has also voiced support for the ordination of women bishops, saying he wants to see a mechanism to allow those opposed to the move to stay within the communion.

Elevation to the head of the established church would represent a remarkable rise for the 56-year-old who was ordained in 1992 and was appointed to the See of Durham, the CofE’s fourth most senior bishopric, in October last year.

As a result critics have pointed to the bishop’s lack of leadership experience inside the often tempestuous world of Anglicanism.

But he consequently untainted by partisanship and it is likely that the bishop’s substantial experience outside the Church as much as inside it that has recommended him to the Crown Nominations Commission, the panel of four women and 15 men tasked with drawing up a list of two choices - a frontrunner and a fall back candidate - to be presented to the Prime Minister and the Queen.

The panel, which had initially been expected to make its decision at the end of September, is believed to have been widely in favour of Bishop Welby as its first choice but was split on its second candidate, throwing doubt over the entire process and prompting speculation that Downing Street would be forced to intervene to break any deadlock.

Prior to ordination, Bishop Welby spent 11 years working in the oil industry, providing the sort of managerial experience required to sort out not only the doctrinal but also the financial and structural challenges that face the Church.

His corporate background has made him an authoritative critic of muscular capitalism. His dissertation at theological college was entitled “Can companies sin?” and he was last month sharply critical of banks, saying they had “no socially useful purpose” and were “exponents of anarchy” prior to the 2008 crash and the sector needs to be rebuilt “from the ruins”. His words were particularly significant because he is a member of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards looking into the Libor lending rate scandal.

By convention, David Cameron will accept the recommendations of the nominations commission and advise that the Queen appoints its first choice as Archbishop.

Justin Welby: Bishop with the common touch

If the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury is to be Justin Welby, most of the nation will not know what to expect.

He is an Old Etonian, but of the self-deprecating sort. Before being ordained he worked as an international oil executive for 11 years, some of it in civil war-torn Nigeria. He understands pain; his first child, Johanna, died in a car accident.

A man of quiet charisma he has the common touch. Though a conservative evangelical, he talks human rather than Kingdom-of-God speak. And his theology is not so conservative as some suppose.

Expect him to talk tough on many matters. He has castigated the present generation for inheriting the benefits of their grandparents' faith and jettisoning its moral obligations.

Paul Vallely

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game