Sunak narrow favorite over Truss for next PM, says ‘Mystic Meg of politics’ | Conservative leadership

The “Mystic Meg” professor who accurately predicted the number of Tory MPs who would support Boris Johnson in the confidence vote last month has temporarily submitted his runes for the final result of the Conservative leadership election.

“Without any confidence, I would say Rishi Sunak will be the next prime minister,” said Jonathan Tonge, who teaches British politics at the University of Liverpool. “But I think it’s a 51/49 call because Liz Truss plays well with Tory party members.

“I think members will see Sunak as a slightly more credible prime minister than Truss because I don’t think they are as obsessed with tax cuts as is usually thought. Conservative party members are obsessed with Brexit, and in that sense Sunak is more ahead of Truss because he is the longer -term Brexiteer. “

Tonge predicted that Tory members would not punish Sunak for his resignation from the cabinet. “I think Sunak has been loyal enough to Johnson for a long time while also maintaining a similarity of distance,” he said.

He thinks the anti-Sunak camp played their hand too early: if they had revealed the status of Sunak’s wife during this leadership election, he said, it would have ruined his chances, but he has recovered. now from that chaos.

“Sunak looks more like part of the PM than Truss,” Tonge said. “He’s a brilliant performer who understands the economy and the severity of the economic situation better than any of his rivals. He’s pragmatic and not gung-ho, which is the opposite of Truss and the Northern Ireland protocol bill-even if it’s not will play bad for him. ”

He said he could not guarantee that Sunak would be able to face Truss in the final period, with Penny Mordaunt being a strong opponent.

“Unlike Truss, Mordaunt was a Brexiteer in the beginning, and clearly there is a‘ stop Rishi ’campaign, where MPs will put their vote for the last two candidates based on who they think is most likely. beat him in the last vote.If they think Tory party membership, which submitted the last ballot, cares more about Brexit than tax cuts, they will choose Mordaunt.

However, Tonge said: “I think Truss is more likely to shade it than Mordaunt.”

Tonge’s predictions weren’t always welcome: one commentator violently referred to him as a “made-up Nostradamus”, a moniker Tonge said he liked so much so he was tempted to put it in his Twitter bio ( although he prefers to think of a “poor man’s John Curtice”, in reference to the veteran pollster).

But his predictions are far more beautiful. He said he won more than he lost in political bets, including winning £ 1,200 in the conference election in Northern Ireland in 2017 and £ 600 in an early bet on Boris Johnson to replace Theresa May.

Tonge also made several predictions for the Guardian in June, most of which were fulfilled, including the outcome of elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton. He also said he would be “extremely surprised” if Keir Starmer was fined by the Durham constabulary.

Two predictions were not fulfilled: if Boris Johnson had a complete reshuffle of his cabinet, Tonge predicted that Sunak would be transferred to foreign secretary. He also temporarily said that the next chancellor would be Sajid Javid, although he added: “I will not bet on it. Javid is a man who wants the highest office.”