Tuesday 31 December, 11.59pm
|2024 or later|
Get the latest UK politics betting news as Boris Johnson comes in for criticism from colleagues past and present and sees Labour eat into the Conservatives' poll lead says Max Liu...
"At times like these odds of 1.845/6 on Johnson lasting as Tory leader until 2024 or later look too short."
As his premiership reached its two year anniversary this week Boris Johnson had little to celebrate.
First, he had to perform another u-turn - this time about his initial decision not to self-isolate after receiving a contact notification from the track and trace app - then his former-adviser Dominic Cummings made more damning accusations against the PM in a BBC interview.
Finally, the weekend's polling showed the Conservatives' lead over Labour collapsing and public approval for the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic plummeting to its lowest level for six months.
At times like these odds of 1.845/6 on Johnson lasting as Tory leader until 2024 or later look too short.
Polls show public losing faith in Johnson government
With YouGov the Tories were down six and Labour up three this weekend, giving Johnson's party just a four point lead over Keir Starmer's when it comes to Westminster voting intention.
A poll from Opinium provided some comfort for Johnson, with the Tories maintaining an eight point lead. Worryingly for the PM, though, the same firm found public opinion on the pandemic at odds with the government.
They reported a 10 point drop over the past fortnight in net approval rating for government handling of the Coronavirus pandemic - the sharpest fall in support since mid-May. The current approval rating sits at 32%, the lowest level since late January, with 48% disapproval.
This was all happening in the week when coronavirus restrictions were lifted. So-called Freedom Day was somewhat undermined, however, because it coincided with Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak self-isolating after they'd been in contact with the health secretary Sajid Javid who tested positive for covid-19.
Initially, the PM and chancellor said they wouldn't isolate but public fury forced a u-turn and the two most powerful people in Britain had to retreat indoors.
By removing restrictions, the government have taken a massive gamble. It remains to be seen what the impact will be and whether they will be forced to reintroduce measures (some commentators predicted restrictions will be back within three weeks), but the last seven days have been as chaotic as any in the past 16 months.
By Saturday, the government were making a mess of their pandemic communications again as Javid, in recovery from the virus, tweeted insensitive remarks about how the public shouldn't "cower" in the face of the virus.
This prompted understandable anger from those who have been affected directly by the virus and condemnation from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. It was an appalling faux pas and, while hardly the most important point, one that could damage Javid's chances of becoming the next Conservative leader.
Can Johnson bounce back again?
The price on Johnson leaving no sooner than 2024 is appealing as a lay or, if you're confident about when he might step down, then 2022 4.3100/30 and 2023 4.57/2 are both intriguing options (you can get 14.013/1 on this year but, even with his capacity for catastrophe, it's unlikely in the next five months).
I like 2023 2.982/1 in the year of next general election market but, if the Tories are to go into it with a different leader, then perhaps they will wait all the way until May 2024 (when it's scheduled to take place).
The pressure on Johnson is mounting. Cummings latest intervention, in his BBC2 interview with Laura Kuenessberg, was predictably erratic but there are signs that his criticisms of Johnson are cutting through.
In the aftermath, newspapers quoted Tory MPs saying the government is "rudderless". As for the public, it's possible to have little trust in Cummings but, at the same time, be persuaded by some of his charges against the PM.
Of course, disapproval of the government doesn't automatically translate into support for Labour and Johnson has bounced back from poor polling before, in part due to the lack of a strong opposition party.
This week, Starmer was criticised for failing to back Dawn Butler after the Labour MP was ejected from the House of Commons for calling Johnson a liar and refusing to retract.
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Tuesday 31 December, 11.59pm
|2024 or later|