Archive for November, 2018

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Punters rate TMay’s chances of getting the Brexit deal agreed by MPs this years at 14%

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

This represents something of a recovery!

Unlike one or two of her predecessors I am not aware that Theresa May follows political betting and the way the odds are changing. If she had have done she would have noticed about 6pm this evening the chances of her getting the brexit vote agreed before the end of the year was down to 3.3%.

Since then has been something of a recovery and now on Betfair it’s trading about 14%.

But we are really waiting for some polls. Some of the TV coverage talking to members of the public finds a more sympathy for the prime minister’s position than you get from MPs. Is that reflective of opinion?

Anecdote is no substitute for proper polling where a structured approach to assessing opinion has been handled with a sample that represents the population as a whole.

Mike Smithson




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Once again the money’s going on TMay not making it to the end of the year

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Now a 28% chance on Betfair

The incredible uncertainty about politics at the moment continues and now there is more speculation that Theresa May might be out this year.

She could decide to go of her own accord or end up getting voted down by MPs. That of course means 48 letters on real paper to Graham Brady demanding a confidence vote. There’ve been developments on that during the morning.

If the 48 total is reached then the next stage would be a ballot of the entire parliamentary party and theoretically 158 would need to vote for get to go for it to happen.

What might impact on CON MPs in a confidence vote is the possibility that they could be opening the door to Johnson becoming PM. That might be a big disincentive to voting for her exit. He’s far from popular in the parliamentary party.

Mike Smithson

Yay! Vanilla is working again.




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Beto O’Rourke, third favourite for WH2020, gets closer to putting his hat into the ring

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Is he the white Obama?

The biggest UK political betting market continues to be the US presidential election in 2020 and overnight there have been big developments with Beto O’Rourke saying that he isn’t rulling out a bid.

He had said on repeated occasions that he would not seek the Presidency at the next election but in a town hall meeting last night in his home city of El Paso he suggested that he is now open to a presidential run. This is a significant shift from his remarks on the matter before the midterm elections on November 6th.

He came to prominence during that campaign for his hugely successful fundraising and for running the incumbent Ted Cruz a very close second in a state which has been dominated by the Republicans for decades.

    If the betting is anything to go by then the nomination flight is between O’Rourke and the California senator Kamala Harris who is just favourite at 17% compared with O’Rourke at 15%.

His senate campaign received a huge amount of publicity ahead of November 6th and he became very much a favourite of the liberal left within the party because of the energy of his campaigning and his strong views on healthcare and immigration. The former became the number one issue in the midterms following the efforts by Trump to undermine Obamacare.

Bernie Sanders, the elderly former favourite has now slipped to sixth place in the betting on 6% and Beto backers will surely hoping that the ageing socialist from Vermont and his energetic base will support their man. I know many PBers, including myself, are on the 46 year old Texan at considerably longer odds than you can get now.

There is still an awful long way to go. Generally potential candidates put their hats into the ring in the first half of the year before the presidential election and the action starts the following January.

This latest news will help prospective campaign funders as well as Democratic party campaign professionals who had been waiting on news from O’Rourke before deciding who to back in the primary campaign.

Mike Smithson




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On the eve of the critical Mississippi senate election Trump’s approval ratings plummet

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Meanwhile the Mueller investigation gets closer

Tomorrow sees the final chapter in this year’s midterms with the runoff for the Senatorial place in Mississippi. Today the president is attending two mass rallies in different parts of the state in the hope of shoring up his core vote ahead of the election.

This is one that Republicans should really hold. It is in a solid “red state” and the expectation is that the party will be able to see off a hugely determined campaign by the Democrats. The current split in the Senate is 52 to 47 and if the pundits are right tomorrow should see that increase to 53 seats.

In the meantime a big shadow is hanging over the White House as the investigation into possible links between his WH2016 campaign and Russia. More indictments are expected by the day and this is getting very close to the incumbent and or members of his family.

He has reacted with anger and aggression taking on a Bush Supreme Court appointee who is now the Chief Justice.

All this might have driven the big drop in his approval ratings from Gallup. As the chart shows he’s now at just 38% approval with 60% disapproval number. Although his base remains loyal Trump needs much more than that.

Mike Smithson




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The bookies open the Commons deal betting making rejection the odds on-favourite

Monday, November 26th, 2018

But read the terms of the market

After yesterday’s historic agreement attention now turns to whether the House of Commons is going to accept what Mrs May has agreed with the EU.

Several bookies have markets up at all of them with opening odds that the deal will be rejected. Betway has it at 1/3 that this will be the outcome and also that Theresa May is just 10/11 to be replaced during 2019.

Betfair has launched what I think is a more interesting exchange market on whether the deal will get through the Commons this year. Note that YES will be a winner even if a first vote is a rejection. The critical element is it going through before the end of the year.

In all politics markets it is always wise to read the precise definition for the avoidance of doubt. These are the Betfair market rules:

Will the House of Commons vote through a government motion to approve a EU withdrawal agreement and accompanying political declaration before the end of 2018?

For the purpose of this market any vote by the House of Lords does not count. If the House of Commons vote through the government motion on a EU withdrawal agreement then Yes will be settled as a winner.

If a first vote on the government motion was defeated the market will still remain active as any subsequent votes on a government motion to approve a EU withdrawal agreement and accompanying political declaration will count. The market will only be settled if/when a motion is voted through by the House of Commons or 2018 comes to an end.

Currently the Betfair market has it has a 74% chance that the proposition to accept will be rejected this year.

My view is that ultimately the deal will be accepted but I’m less certain that that is going to happen in the remaining weeks of 2018. The current 25% price is probably just about a value bet and I might have a wager.

The excellent historical betting price site Betdata.io has just included this in the markets it is covering and no doubt I will be referring to that a lot in the coming days and weeks.

Mike Smithson




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Monkey’s paw. Delivering on the referendum campaign promises

Monday, November 26th, 2018

In the end, Theresa May has been more faithful to the referendum mandate than most Leave advocates. In 2016, the Leave campaign focussed on just two things: diverting the EU contributions into the NHS and scaring the public into believing that millions of Turks were poised to invade. It succeeded.

Theresa May became Prime Minister in the wake of the referendum. She applied herself immediately to understanding the extent of the bow wave. Correctly, she determined that the form of Brexit needed to meet those concerns. She prioritised them, ensuring the NHS gets preferential treatment in the budget. When it came to the negotiation of Brexit, her starting point was that Britain had to be able to control immigration. The deal that she has brought back reflects that strategic priority.

It seems that most Leave advocates have forgotten what they campaigned for. At the last count, 90 Conservative MPs, most of them hardline Leavers, have indicated that they will oppose the deal provisionally agreed. They are concerned about the backstop provisions and about the barriers to Britain making its own trade deals.

Some Leavers have gone further. Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and Daniel Hannan have all said that the current deal is worse than remaining in the EU. All three were on the Vote Leave campaign committee that focussed so relentlessly on immigration and money for the NHS. The only conclusion one can draw was that they whored for votes using arguments they didn’t believe in and now are enraged that Leave voters are not being betrayed for their real priorities.

Two out of these three have pretensions to become the next Prime Minister. Their devotees won’t notice their duplicity.The general public already has.

It is hard to have much sympathy for Leave advocates. If they wanted a mandate for prioritising trade deals, they should have sought one. It turns out that pandering to xenophobia to win votes has consequences for everyone, not just the nominal losers. Who could have guessed? This explains Michael Gove publicly regretting Vote Leave fuelling fears about Turkish immigration during the referendum campaign.

It’s all very well skewering the rampant hypocrisy of the Leave advocates, but Leave MPs participate in the meaningful vote and at present the Prime Minister looks to have faint hopes indeed of getting her deal past Parliament on the first attempt. Indeed, the government is already strategically leaking how it is anticipating the markets going haywire following such a defeat and relying on that to drum some sense into MPs of all parties.

Plan B, however, also currently looks forlorn. If Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 90 Conservatives all vote against the deal, it will be defeated on the first attempt by something like 150 votes. It’s hard to see how the deal could be resuscitated after that. The defeat would be just too crushing.

What, then, is Plan C?  If the deal dies in December, the government cannot simply do nothing for three months, waiting on the shore for the hundred year wave to crash over the country. Further choices will need to be made.

Britain could seek to renegotiate with the EU. This looks forlorn. The current deal is barely acceptable to many of the stakeholders on the EU side. It seems unlikely anyone will have the patience for a fullscale revision. Tinkering at the edges is not going to satisfy recalcitrant MPs.

If a deal is not struck, there is no mandate for remaining in the EU, so much is obvious. Yet there is also no mandate for leaving without a deal. The Leave campaign was founded on the ease of a deal being struck: “we hold all the cards”, “the easiest deal in history”.

A consistent 30% of the public are prepared to pay any price to secure a deal – Northern Ireland going up in flames, Scotland going independent, family members losing a job. 30%, however, is nothing like a majority and if Britain suffers severe social disruption that up to two thirds of the public did not actively support, the country’s politics will be engulfed in a firestorm.

Somehow or other fresh authority is needed for the next step if the deal is voted down decisively. There is no time but the simplest means would be to hold a fresh referendum. So time will need to be found. It would be divisive and settle nothing, but other routes from here are even worse.

In one of the great bone-chilling short stories, The Monkey’s Paw, the eponymous paw has been enchanted to grant three wishes to each owner, each of which will come at a great price. Leaver politicians appear to have taken possession of the Monkey’s Paw. They have secured their referendum victory, but on a basis that many of them regard as negating what they were looking for from it. Some now are making a second wish for Britain to leave without a deal, without any mandate for doing so.

In the original story, the previous owner of the paw had made his third wish a wish for death. For Leavers, the death wish seems to have come early.

Alastair Meeks




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The Telegraph leading on May’s TV Corbyn debate plan

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

At least she’s taking the initiative

This reminds me very much Tony Blair in the period leading up to the Iraq War. That, it will be recalled, saw massive demonstrations and Commons revolts but in the end the UK joined the US in going to war.

The hardline Brexiteers would have been in a stronger position now if they’d put the grunt work in and had had an alternative plan.

Anyway another week begins.

Mike Smithson




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After an historic morning in Brussels the betting remains that Brexit will happen on time & TMay will survive until at least 2019

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

The uncertainties remain

I’m taking profits on my TMay surviving 2018 bet because I think there’s just an outside chance that she could quit if the Commons votes against her plan. That would happen before Christmas.

One thing that’s happened during her premiership is that ultimately she’s won just about all the main votes on Brexit. Things might look bleak now but is Labour really going to risk being tarred with having made a no deal exit to actually happen?

There’s a huge difference between the party abstaining and actually voting alongside the DUP and hardline Tory rebels to strike it down. My guess is that Corbyn’s party will abstain.

What we don’t know is how much the “put it to the national in a referendum” argument will resonate. It becomes harder to resist now that we know what leaving actually means.

Mike Smithson