Archive for the 'Article 50' Category


Geoffrey Cox for next CON leader? He’s head and shoulders above the rest

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

At 50/1 a good bet?

These are quite extraordinary times and one of the “stars” to have emerged has been the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox – someone who first came to many people’s attention when he introduced TMay at October’s CON conference.

I thought he did brilliantly yesterday handling what was a very difficult issue for the government and no doubt will be seeing more of him later.

    He’s not someone who has been mentioned much as a prospective CON leader but if he has ambitions in that direction he has done himself a power of good over Brexit. As I write the best price on him to succeed Mrs. May is 50/1 which looks a goodish longshot.

If Theresa May manages to get through this difficult period with the deal agreed, a big if, and the UK does leave the EU in March as planned then one of the major factors will have been the role of Mr Cox.

This morning, of course, the whole EU exit business took a turn with the recommendation to the ECJ that the UK could unilaterally revoke the article 50 declaration that was made in March 2017.

One of the effects of this, I suggest, is that it is going to help the whips as they try to get leavers to back the Prime Minister in the big vote next week. Assuming the advice the European court is getting is accepted then that places the whole subject in a very different context and the threat of Brexit not happening will be greater.

Wavering Tory MPs will be told in no uncertain terms that TMay’s deal is the best way of guaranteeing Brexit.

Let’s now see what the rest of the day brings.

Mike Smithson


The chances of the UK leaving the EU on March 29th are surely greater than 54%

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

With so many big things happening in UK politics as the March 29 EU exit deadline gets nearer one of they key betting markers is surely “Will the UK leave the EU as planned on March 29th next year?”. The chart above shows the moves on Betfair over the past month.

It strikes me that the current betting price that it will happen of 54% is an understatement giving the machinations that would have to happen in order for the exit not to take place by that date. That would make this a value bet.

Even if there was the political will there really is no time left for a second referendum before that date and it is hard to see Theresa May’s government supporting the idea. Also the Electoral Commission has declared that it needs 5 or 6 months notice for such a major vote to take place and that takes us to a late spring at the earliest.

Even if that was moving forward there would still be a requirement for the EU27 to agree to the extension. This might change because of a court case that is currently being pursued but it is far from certain. Once the clock was started when Mrs May invoked Article 50 in March 2017 then it became much harder for any change of mind.

With the benefit of hindsight the Article 50 invocation should really have been delayed until such time as there was political agreement on what sort of relationship with the EU that the UK was looking for. We haven’t reached that yet.

I still think that one of the most remarkable ill-thought out things that Jeremy Corbyn has stated on this was his declaration on the day after the referendum in 2016 that Article 50 should be invoked immediately. If that had been the case we would have been out for nearly 6 months by now.

UPDATE – UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50

Mike Smithson


If TMay has to go quickly then, surely, Javid or Hunt should be favourites for “Emergency PM”

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Both might be worth a punt for next PM

I’ve long taken the view that Theresa May is not going to resign voluntarily before her mission of handling brexit and taking the UK out of the EU has been accomplished. However the big Commons vote goes next week she’ll want to cling on and see it through.

But there must always be a chance that she would quit or even more likely face a vote of no confidence amongst her MPs if the outcome is really bad for her.

One of the things that, surprisingly, there has been very little discussion about is who would be emergency PM should TMay resign suddenly and there is no time for a proper leadership election. The cabinet then would be likely to choose a temporary PM while a leadership ballot went forward.

Assuming that this happened before the termination of the article 50 process on March 29th then the new prime minister would have to take over at a very difficult and challenging time in order to handle the whole issue of the UK’s extraction from the EU.

This is a big task and not one you could see current CON leadership favourite Boris doing. One thing he’s never been is a details man. There’s Dominic Raab who has only been in the cabinet a few months and really doesn’t yet look the part.

    Looking around I very much agree with Ian Martin’s tweet above that there are only two big beasts there ready to fit the bill – the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt and the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid. They would also be in a position to determine TMay’s future.

Quite what the mechanics of the change would be is clearly open to speculation but a lot could be in TMay’s hands. Part of her constitutional duty on handing in her resignation as PM is to advise the Queen on who should be invited to lead the government.

My guess is that she would prefer Hunt who like her is one of the three remaining Cabinet ministers who have served since continuously since GE2010. She wouldn’t however want to go against the will of the cabinet.

In the betting the best market to go for is next PM rather than next CON leader. The odds are slightly longer. I’ve just had small wagers at 11 and 12 on Betfair on Javid and Hunt respectively. Even if there is no immediate vacancy they are both strongly placed for when she does go.

Mike Smithson


Survation-Daily Mail poll finds growing support for TMay’s Brexit deal

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Now more support than oppose

The big overnight Brexit news is a Survation poll for the Daily Mail conducted yesterday which is being splashed all over its front page as can be seen above.

The big news is that on comparative questions there has been a significant increase in those supporting the deal compared with similar questions which were put by Survation in a poll on November 15th.

Clearly this is good news for Theresa May who has started to look beleaguered following the reception the agreement has been getting from party MPs. The general favorability to Theresa May on this issue is in broad line with the Times YouGov polling that was published in the middle of last week.

No doubt the Conservative whipping operation at Westminster, which is facing it’s biggest test for years, will be using these numbers as it seeks to persuade wavering party MPs to fall in line.

    Mrs May is being very much helped by the very different approach being taken by the new editor of The Daily Mail who replaced Lord Dacre in the summer. I doubt if the latter would have commissioned a poll like this and even if he had done he certainly wouldn’t have been giving it front treat front page treatment as above.

The 39-42% LAB voter split on how MPs should vote might help lead the party, to do what many have been predicting, to abstain when the big vote is taken.

The Betfair price on TMay going this year has dropped from 30% last night to 28% this morning. Back on November 15th it was 60%.

Mike Smithson


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


Get ready for possibly the Xmas TV event of the year – May v Corbyn on the Brexit deal

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

Would Corbyn agree?

According to ‘James Forsyth in the Sun:

“May herself is confident about selling her deal. She knows the withdrawal agreement backwards. Her copy of it is marked up with reference tabs and she relishes mocking Corbyn for not having read it.Such is May’s swagger about her knowledge of the deal that there is talk in No10 of challenging Corbyn to a debate over it.”

My guess is that Corbyn’s advisors would try to get him to avoid any acceptance of the challenge though that could be risky as we saw at the last election when Mrs May refused to debate Mr Corbyn.

    A refusal to accept such a challenge would lead to lots of taunting by the Conservatives and No10, no doubt, would see this as a way of helping unify her party against Labour.

At the moment the Conservative Party is totally split on the deal and Brexit while Labour is really just not seen as a player with Corbyn having a long history of opposition to the EU which is totally out of step with the majority of its voters. Its most ubiquitous Brexit performer, Lord. Adonis, is not even an MP.

One thing that Labour has never acknowledged is how important anti-Brexit tactical vote was to it at GE17. That’s not going to be there next time.

At PMQs on Wednesday we saw Theresa May demonstrate her expertise on the subject in the exchange with Corbyn and my guess is that this helped make the argument internally that such a TV debate might be a good idea.

I’d love it to happen.

Mike Smithson


More and more punters are putting their money on a second referendum happening

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

I really do like showing betting charts simply to indicate how opinions about a likely outcome change all the time and it’s good to see it in graphic form.

Giving the response so far from parliamentarians to the brexit deal the chances are that this might get voted down by MPs and if so then what? The consequences of no deal have not yet been spelled out to voters but there’s little doubt that ministers are aware.

There’s increasing speculation that if that does happen then maybe Theresa May would back that herself. In any case there is said to be a possible majority of MPs from different parties supporting the idea.

Oxford politics Professor, Stephen Fisher of exit poll fame, has just posted an interesting analysis on his blog under the heading “IN WHICH THERESA MAY CALLS A REFERENDUM DESPITE EXPECTING TO LOSE HER JOB”. He notes:

“.The prime minister has said that a no-deal Brexit would be “a bad outcome for the UK”, and also that she believes, with her “head and heart” and “every fibre of her body”, that the deal is, “in the best interests of our entire United Kingdom.” If this is really how she feels she should want to ask the people to back her deal in a referendum to force parliament’s hand. May has previously ruled out a referendum, but she also ruled out a general election in 2017 and called one anyway.

Even if she does not really feel so strongly in favour of her deal, calling another referendum still looks like it would be the most palatable of the options that would immediately be available. Calling a general election would be much riskier. Resigning would be a dereliction of duty without any obvious indication that any other prime minister would yield a better outcome for her party or the country. She would have no credible argument for trying to unilaterally revoke Article 50: it is not what she wants, it may not work and it would provoke a major legitimacy crisis. If she calls and fails to deliver a referendum at least she will have taken every opportunity to avert a no-deal Brexit.”

Mike Smithson


A massive Westminster day ends with TMay still in place

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

The “bloody difficult woman” will be difficult to shift

Although I disagree with her on so many things you can but admire the way she is holding on and battling forward in spite of all the obstacles and setbacks. This was always going to be a very difficult period for the Prime Minister who took over shortly after the referendum in July 2016 never more so than today.

Throughout she has made as her objective ensuring that the referendum outcome is delivered while at the same time seeking to safeguard the economy. We have seen over the years how Conservative Party can be hideously difficult for a leader to navigate when it comes to things relating to the EU as has been illustrated so much today. This was never going to be easy.

Dominic Raab the Brexit secretary who has quit had a lot of coverage during the day and it is probably the first time many have had a good look at him. I’m less than impressed. He’s a lightweight especially when it comes to comparisons with the Prime Minister. He would have done his position much more good if the resignation has come after last night’s cabinet meeting and not today.

I thought Moggsy’s announcement that he had sent a letter in to the 1922 committee chair would be the trigger for the other 47 letters that would start a leadership process. So far that hasn’t happened and suggests a lack of organisation if indeed there is an ousting plot in place.

Whatever this is all a welcome break from Mr. Trump.

Mike Smithson