David Miliband favourite to replace Brown: bookmakers
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is the odds-on favourite to replace Prime Minister Gordon Brown as the Labour Party leader, bookmakers said Monday.
Within minutes of Brown announcing his intention to step down, bookies confirmed Miliband as the favourite to replace him -- with his younger brother Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, close behind.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson, finance minister Alistair Darling, schools secretary Ed Balls, and Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman are the closest outsiders, according to some of Britain's biggest betting chains.
Paddy Power made David Miliband the 4/6 favourite, followed by both Ed Miliband and Balls at 6/1. Johnson is 7/1, with Harman 10/1.
William Hill had David Miliband at 4/7, with Darling at 8/1, Johnson at 10/1, Ed Miliband at 12/1 and Balls at 14/1.
"The political punters have been waiting for this race to come under orders for some time," said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.
"They have already begun placing substantial bets -- we have taken a 2,500-pound (3,700-dollar, 1,160-euro) wager for David Miliband, which is unlikely to be the biggest we take.
"Up to one million pounds is likely to be gambled on this event, provided it doesn't turn into a one-horse race."
Paddy Power said Miliband had been a strong favourite to replace Brown ever since he said in October last year he was not a candidate for the European Union's foreign policy chief job.
"The question now is who will be crowned Brown's successor and whether this happens sooner than the PM is hoping for," said spokesman Darren Haines.
Ladbrokes have David Miliband as their 4/6 favourite, followed by Ed Miliband, Balls, Darling, Johnson and Harman at 10/1.
Former prime minister Tony Blair is a 100/1 long shot.
Coral had David Miliband at 4/5, Johnson at 9/2, Ed Miliband at 9/1, Harman 10/1, with Darling and Balls at 12/1.
Coral also said a fresh general election, sparked by the lack of an outright winner in last Thurday's election, was most likely to take place this year (11/8), followed by next year at 6/4 and in 2012 at 9/2.
Despite Brown's announcement that he will step down and Labour will enter formal talks with the Liberal Democrats about forming a government, bookmakers still reckon the next government will be a Conservative-Liberal one.
Paddy Power make a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition 4/7, a Tory minority government 11/8, a Labour-Lib Dem coalition 5/1, and all three of them forming an administration together 66/1.
William Hill put the odds on a Tory-Lib Dem coalition at 5/6, followed by 7/4 for a Conservative minority and 7/2 for a Labour-Lib Dem coalition.
"Everything is up for grabs now, but the most likely outcome remains the Tory-Lib Dem tie-up," Sharpe said.
Ladbrokes make Conservative leader David Cameron the 1/2 favourite to be the prime minister on June 6, followed by Brown at 5/2 and David Miliband at 5/1.
© 2010 AFP