The odds of the back-bench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg have been cut once again.
At the start of July, City A.M. reported that Jacob Rees-Mogg’s odds of becoming the next leader of the Conservative Party had been cut from an outsider position of 50/1 to 16/1 (according to Oddschecker). Over the last couple of weeks, they have been cut further, suggesting that Rees-Mogg could actually be in with a chance of becoming the next Conservative leader – and next prime minister if May steps aside.
As of 25th July, Ladbrokes gives odds of 8/1 for Rees-Mogg becoming the next Tory leader. To put that into context, Boris Johnson also has odds of 8/1 with the company. Philip Hammond’s odds are 7/1 while David Davis’ are 3/1. According to the Guardian, a poll of Conservative members showed that Davis was the favourite to succeed Theresa May.
PaddyPower gives odds of 6/1 for the back-bencher, the same as Hammond. Johnson’s odds are 8/1 while Davis’ are 3/1.
Things are certainly moving in Rees-Mogg’s direction, but what are the main obstacles standing in his way?
The first is that he has stated that he would not run for the leadership. In an interview with Conservative Home, speaking about a campaign set up in support of him, Rees-Mogg said:
"Well it’s very flattering. I can’t help but be flattered. But I’m not taking it seriously.
“I don’t think giving one’s son an unusual name is a qualification for being Prime Minister. And I’m glad to say there isn’t a vacancy.
“I’m a backbench Tory MP, and can’t be a serious candidate. But it’s very charming.”
The second is that - as he pointed out - he is a back-bench MP. The history of a back-bench MP with no ministerial experience rising to the top job without any stepping stones is limited. David Cameron never served as a minister before becoming prime minister, but he served in the shadow cabinet and then as leader of the opposition. Rees-Mogg would have to make an unprecedent leap to the top.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron with his mother Mary Cameron in the royal box
Thirdly, he is seen by many as out of touch. The Independent reported that on LBC, Rees-Mogg has never changed a nappy despite being a father of six, and that he is “not a modern man”.
His first tweet was even a Latin phrase:
Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) 15 July 2017
The phrase means: "Times are changing and we are changing with them."
He is certainly right on that one, but could he actually become Tory leader?
Probably not, but in the age of outsiders – Trump, Macron, Corbyn - this is also the age of big surprises.