Jacob Rees-Mogg now second favourite to replace Theresa May as next Tory leader

Tory backbencher appears to be emerging as threat to David Davis, who is widely thought to be frontrunner

Jon Stone
Political Corresponent
Monday 24 July 2017 12:10
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Jacob Rees-Mogg
Jacob Rees-Mogg

Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has moved into second place in the betting markets to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader.

The Old Etonian, who is popular among Conservative activists, is ahead of one-time favourite Boris Johnson, the Chancellor Philip Hammond, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd – as well as Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

He however trails David Davis, who is favourite to replace Ms May, with 20 per cent implied chance of victory versus Mr Rees-Mogg’s 12 per cent, according to odds aggregator BetData.

In an interview with the ConservativeHome website earlier this week Mr Rees-Mogg said he did not see himself as “a serious candidate”, though he did not explicitly rule out running.

“It’s very flattering. I can’t help but be flattered. But I’m not taking it seriously,” he told the website.

There has been speculation about who might replace Ms May after she blew her party's majority by calling a snap election for last month.

If the next leadership contest takes place before the next general election the winner could become Prime Minister without winning an election, as Ms May did.

Following on from the surprise result of Labour's leadership election – which saw Jeremy Corbyn come from nowhere to win – there has been speculation that the next Tory leader could be a relatively unknown backbencher.

David Davis is currently the overall favourite to replace Theresa May

Despite the betting, the race for next Tory leader remains a relatively open field – and it is not yet clear whether Ms May will stand down before the next general election.

On a visit to the G20 in Hamburg earlier this month the Prime Minister said she expected to conduct the whole of the Brexit negotiations, but dodged a question about whether she would remain in place at the next election.

A separate YouGov poll of Tory activists conducted for the ESRC Party members project and reported by the Observer newspaper this weekend also showed Mr Davis in first place with 21 per cent of activists’ support, but with Mr Johnson in second place on 18 per cent.

Mr Rees-Mogg trailed on six per cent in this survey, despite his higher position in the betting markets.

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