Rishi Sunak overtaken by Liz Truss as favourite to replace Boris Johnson

‘The odds have moved dramatically against’ the chancellor in recent days, Betfair says

Andy Gregory
Sunday 10 April 2022 15:02 BST
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Aaron Chown/PA)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Liz Truss has begun to pull out in front of Rishi Sunak as the bookmakers’ favourite Tory MP to replace Boris Johnson, after a series of revelations about the chancellor and his wife’s tax affairs.

Until recently, Mr Sunak had been the clear frontrunner within his party, and outrage over the Partygate scandal prompted widespread expectations that his promotion could be imminent.

While Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine appears to have dampened appetites for an imminent leadership change among Tory MPs, a drubbing in the upcoming local elections could harden attitudes, and the possibility remains that Mr Johnson could be forced to resign if issued a fine by police for Downing Street parties.

Sir Keir Starmer remains the favourite to become the next prime minister, with comparison site Oddschecker putting the Labour leader’s chances at 6/1.

Within the Conservative Party, the foreign secretary is now out in front of the chancellor, with odds of 9/1 for Ms Truss and 21/10 for Mr Sunak.

The odds offered on William Hill and Betfair Exchange, where bettors wage against each other, also suggest that Ms Truss has replaced Mr Sunak as the Conservative frontrunner.

“For years, the betting suggested it was a case of when and not if Sunak got the top job but the latest shake up shows the odds have moved dramatically against him in the last week, with Truss and Tom Tugenhadt emerging as new front-runners,” said Sam Rosbottom of Betfair.

With the foreign secretary having “surged past” Mr Sunak, “the chancellor’s prospect of leading his party seeming to diminish by the day”, Mr Rosbottom said.

Nevertheless, Paddy Power still places Mr Sunak in front, while he is neck-and-neck with Ms Truss on the Sky Bet website.

However, his popularity among the Tory grassroots also appears to have plunged, with a Conservative Home poll – which until last year he had topped – suggesting on Monday that the chancellor had the lowest popularity rating of any Cabinet minister save for Ben Elliot and Priti Patel.

The poll came after the chancellor had faced criticism even among Tory MPs for not doing enough to help poorer households weather the cost-of-living crisis in his spring statement – but was prior to the series of revelations in recent days about Mr Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty’s financial affairs.

On Wednesday, The Independent revealed that Ms Murty was claiming non-domicile status, meaning she faced no UK tax on her vast foreign earnings.

The following day, Mr Sunak also admitted to holding a US green card for some 19 months while chancellor, prompting questions among colleagues over his political judgement.

While Mr Sunak had denounced the scrutiny of his wife’s tax affairs as “smears”, Ms Murty announced on Friday that she had decided to pay UK tax on her overseas earnings, backdated to last year, saying: “I do not wish my tax status to be a distraction for my husband or to affect my family.”

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