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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn