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

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

John Moore starred in Coca Cola and Morrisons adverts

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Former boxer recalls incident when he was seven years old

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission £100k +: SThree: Trainee Recru...

Senior Automation Tester – Permanent – West Sussex – Circa £40k

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

KS2 Teacher Plymouth

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes