Chancellor Rishi Sunak is now priced at just 4/1 at most bookmakers to become the next Prime Minister as the country’s short-lived faith in Boris Johnson plummets.
The popularity stakes in the Conservative camp have become a woefully uncontested field since the crisis struck just months after their landslide election win.
Michael Gove and Dominic Raab are long-shot outsiders behind Sunak to be installed as the next PM, even though most would agree that putting either candidate up would effectively ensure a Labour win next time out.
The Rishi Sunak show
Many within the party seem to hold the same belief of Johnson, who could be ousted from within if the Tories are to remain in power.
As Kevin O’Hara noted here, the Conservative Grandees could soon see a benefit in moving him on in time to rebuild ahead of the next election.
Based on current events that leaves just one man in pole position to take over.
Sunak propelled himself into the limelight after a blistering budget delivered just weeks after the departure of Sajid Javid.
Since then he has won plaudits for the roll out of the furlough scheme along with rescue loans to businesses to help them handle the ‘unprecedented times’.
But the chancellor could face a classic dilemma.
As anyone who has ever leant money to a friend knows, you are the most popular person in the world when you dole the money out, but you quickly become less popular when you ask for the money back.
With the economy slowly recovering thoughts have already turned to repayment.
According to recent calculations the total deficit is likely to wipe out gains from a decade of austerity, with further bouts of belt tightening likely to come.
Reports that the Treasury is considering public sector pay freezes and tax hikes to meet the cost of coronavirus were met with dismay from politicians, who warned that “ordinary people should not be made to bail out the country again”.
But there may be no other way.
Coronavirus will incur an untold cost to the economy which sooner or later will have to be paid back.
The golden boy of Covid will quickly turn villain when people find that out.