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Johnson appears to be doing what Gordon Brown did in the summer of 2007 giving you all the signs of going for an early election

August 12th, 2019

Why I’m betting that there’s greater than a 28% chance of no 2019 election

This period reminds me very much of summer 2007 when Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair in the June of that year. There was a mass of activity, and a new initiative just about every day. All the speculation was that he was going for an early election. This was in spite of the fact that Brown inherited a working majority.

We all know what happened. Brown bottled it, his polling leads evaporated and that was the end, effectively , of his premiership although he struggled on till May 2010.

The pace of announcements from Number 10 at the moment is very similar although I get the feeling that the media is less inclined to give prominence to everything that is now coming out of Cummings’ head. Just look how little coverage the clamp down on law and order got this morning.

What eventually stopped Gordon Brown going to the Country 12 years ago was that the polling did not indicate that he would achieve a bigger majority than Blair had got two years earlier which is what head dearly wanted. He could not take risk that the election would see the LAB position get worse.

The difference compared with Johnson at the moment is that Brown had an effective working majority.  Johnson’s parliamentary situation now is dire and was made worse by the loss of the Brecon by-election in his first week.

My reading of Johnson is that he has strived for so long and so hard to get into Number 10 that he isn’t going to risk throwing it all away  by calling an early election that does not give him what he wants.

He might be beating off the Brexit party challenge on his right but there are many other problems emerging in the centre ground.  The SNP looks set to regain most of the seats that Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories gained at the last general election. Many of those 13 Scottish CON MPs look vulnerable on current Scottish polling. On top of that we have the Lib Dem and Green recovery and possibility of collaboration that could lead to dozens of losses. There might have been a LAB to CON swing since GE2017 but there’s been an even bigger CON to LD one.

Sitting PMs can lose ground by calling an early election as his predecessor could no doubt attest.

Of course Johnson could have an election forced on him by an no confidence vote.

The whole political landscape has been changed by Brexit and there aren’t the same old certainties.  Johnson needs to be convinced that he can more than offset potential losses with gains from LAB and that looks challenging.  In October 2007 I made quite a lot betting that Brown would not risk it. Now I am laying 2019 on the Betfair General Election year market above.

Mike Smithson