Betting on politics: odds on the next EC president

Ursula von der Leyen © Getty Images

With nearly a fortnight to go before ballot papers in the Tory leadership election have to be returned, the amount of money matched on the betting exchanges continues to rise. The sum matched on Betfair has grown to £14m; another £2.2m has been wagered on Smarkets. Both betting exchanges predict that Boris Johnson will emerge triumphant, and his odds have narrowed to 1.06 (94.3%). Those on Jeremy Hunt have drifted out to 17 (5.8%).

Having tipped Johnson (among a host of other candidates) two years ago, I’m not going to recommend that you put any more money on either candidate. In any case, the odds seem about right, since Johnson has a huge lead in the membership opinion polls. Still, a lacklustre debate performance, his failure to back the (now former) UK ambassador to the US (see right), and the possibility of a last-minute scandal, mean that there is still a small chance that Hunt could yet end up as the next leader of the Tories.

However, if you want some real value, then I’d recommend that you turn your attention to Europe. Last week, it was announced that the German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen (pictured), has been selected to be the president of the European Commission. Because of the controversial way she was appointed, there’s a chance that the European Parliament could refuse to confirm her. I think it’s unlikely they will reject her, so you should take the 1.33 (75.2%) available on Smarkets on her being the next president.