Bookmakers Ladbrokes have made Zac Goldsmith the evens favourite to be selected as the Conservative candidate in next year’s mayoral race.
Although the MP has repeatedly played down rumours of a City Hall bid, recent interventions by former Tory mayoral hopeful Steve Norris have fuelled expectations that he’ll ultimately seek the nomination.
Goldsmith entered the Commons in 2010 when he unseated former mayoral runner Susan Kramer to become MP for Richmond Park.
At last month’s general election he increased his majority from 4,091 to 23,015 and took 58.2% of the vote.
Any mayor must secure 50.1% of the votes cast, meaning cross-party appeal is essential if a candidate is to pick up the second preference votes needed to win.
Many City Hall observers believe Goldsmith represents his party’s best chance to retaining the mayoralty when Boris Johnson steps down next year thanks to his proven success in winning over Liberal Democrat voters and likely appeal to Green Party voters.
Baroness Jenny Jones, one of the Green party’s most senior voices, has already speculated that supporters could give their second preference votes to Goldsmith rather than a more pro-road Labour candidate.