UK Politics: Tory election odds shorten as Boris bounces back

  • Max Liu
  • 5:00 min read
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Johnson's popularity is greater than at any time since May 2020

The latest UK politics odds show Boris Johnson and the Conservatives' popularity rising but it could yet go wrong for the government before the next election says Max Liu...

"A poll from Opinium gave Johnson his best personal approval rating since last May and a 12 point lead over Labour leader Keir Starmer as preferred prime minister."

The Conservatives are 2.8815/8 to win a majority at the next general election on the Exchange after a succession of polls gave them a commanding lead over Labour and showed Boris Johnson's personal popularity soaring.

Johnson is 1.814/5 to lead the Conservatives until 2024 or later - the year when the next general election is 1.364/11 to take place - while on the Sportsbook he's 1/4 to achieve a 43% of higher YouGov approval rating in March.

This weekend a poll from Opinium gave Johnson his best personal approval rating since last May and a 12 point lead over Labour leader Keir Starmer as preferred prime minister.

The odds on the Tories, who have an 80-seat majority in parliament, winning a successive majority drifted throughout 2020 as Covid-19 pandemic took its toll. A hung parliament is the still the odds-against favourite the next time Britons go to the polls but the price on a Tory majority is more encouraging for them than it was at the end of last year. As little as a month ago a Conservative majority was 3.211/5.

Where it's gone right and could go wrong for Johnson

The Covid-19 vaccine and the sense that there is, after almost a year of the pandemic, a return to normality in sight has driven the government's resurgence. Johnson's roadmap for leaving lockdown was unveiled in February and won support for what looked like a more realistic and coherent plan than he had presented in the past.

That doesn't mean the PM's popularity will last. Some commentators have speculated that the PM could try to cash in his vaccine bounce by calling a general election this year - an outcome that can be backed at 27.026/1 on the Exchange.

But that wouldn't happen until autumn at the earliest and, with experts already warning of a surge in Covid infections next winter, it seems unlikely.

Rishi Sunak 956.jpg

A public inquiry into the government's handling of the pandemic will come but recriminations are already under way. Next week will see the publication of Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain's Battle with Coronavirus, a meticulously-researched and sourced book by Sunday Times investigative journalists George Arbuthnott and Jonathan Calvert.

It examines the way Johnson, Dominic Cummings and colleagues bungled the initial response to the pandemic last spring and goes on to point the finger at Rishi Sunak - the favourite to succeed Johnson as Tory leader - for the second wave.

One book won't bring down the government but its damning conclusions could pave the way for more. For now, Johnson, who keeps a close eye on his own popularity, will be encouraged by the polls and the odds.

SNP majority odds-on but Davidson says they can be stopped

The SNP are 2.3611/8 to win over 69.5 seats and that's in line with this week's projection from the New Statesman that has Nicola Sturgeon's party winning 67 seats on 6 May.

The nationalists need 65 seats to win an historic majority, which would give them the mandate to call for another referendum on independence, and they are 1.538/15 to cross that threshold.

Their election campaign has been complicated by the ongoing feud between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, with both giving evidence to a Scottish Parliament inquiry in the past fortnight. But whether it damages their chances on polling day is another matter.

Ruth Davidson is hoping it will. The Tory leader in Scotland has told voters that, with Labour in disarray north of the border, the only way to stop an SNP majority is to back her party. Davidson remains popular, she is depicted sympathetically by the media and has rebranded the Tories as the number one anti-independence party in Scotland.

She doesn't deny that the SNP will win the most seats but she does believe a majority is not a foregone conclusion.

UK - Next General Election: UK - Next General Election (Overall Majority)

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Thursday 2 May, 7.00am

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