MP laughs off rumours about party leadership prospects

Mike Penning election night 2015
Mike Penning election night 2015

Hemel Hempstead’s Mike Penning was tipped as the next leader of the Conservative Party this week - and promptly laughed off the rumour.

Damian McBride, a former civil servant who is now best-known as a political commentator, suggested Mr Penning as a dark horse when the Tories choose their next leader.

But Mr Penning was nonplussed at being tipped, and suggested anyone putting their money on him would be wasting their time.

He told the Gazette: “From my point of view I wouldn’t want that pressure.

“It’s flattering that someone thinks I’d be capable but I don’t think it’s right for me.

“I’m very happy doing what I’m doing.”

He added: “There was something like this about a year ago too - it just goes with the territory after an election or if you’ve had a promotion.

“It’s just speculation and that’s always fun.

“But David Cameron has just delivered what was probably the greatest election victory in living memory - he won’t be leaving as leader any time soon.”

Last week Mr Penning took up a new ministerial position, when he was named minister of police and criminal justice.

Bookmakers are offering odds of 8/1 that David 
Cameron will no longer be Prime Minister by the end of 2016.

And while the likes of Boris Johnson and Theresa May are currently favourites among gamblers, Damian McBride reckons that odds of 100/1 make Mr Penning worth a flutter.

He said: “I would stick a conservative quid on Mike Penning: working-class Essex boy; former soldier and fireman; solid Eurosceptic.

“He’s in the firing line of the biggest and most politically-sensitive public spending cuts as policing minister and if he resists those publicly, or resigns over them, he’ll become a standard-bearer against Team (George) Osborne.”