Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Johnson now evens to succeed TMay as PM

Friday, May 24th, 2019 chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

But will he suffer the Tory front-runner curse?

This morning’s announcement by Mrs May that she is Stepping down did not come as a surprise and indeed there has been a lot of activity over her replacement over the past few weeks. On Betfair, the betting exchange where it is punters exchanging bets between themselves not the bookmakers who fix the odds, the former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London is now evens favourite to be Britain’s next PM after a period when his odds have tightened rapidly.

The only problem he faces, of course, is what has become the curse that afflicts the front runners in Tory leadership races. Apart from Michael Howard in 2003 who was given a coronation the front runner in period leading up to the vacancy has never got it in modern times.

The first Tory leadership election after PB had been founded in 2004 was the one that succeeded Michael Howard’s failure to prevent a third Tony Blair workable majority in 2005. All the long-term money had been on David Davis yet suddenly part, apparently out of nowhere, David Cameron emerged as a serious contender then made a big speech at his Party Conference and thereafter the prospects of DDavis declined.

Johnson has of course being the frontrunner before and was very much expected to succeed David Cameron following his resignation immediately after the referendum in June 2016. For whatever reason, and there have been interesting TV dramatisations, Johnson pull himself out of the race after Michael Gove entered it on that amazing Thursday morning three years ago.

The process, as we are all no doubt very familiar, is that there is a series of ballots amongst CON MPs to draw up a shortlist of 2 to go to the membership. It is here that it is thought that Johnson might struggle and his main worry, I’d suggest, is if another prominent pro brexit here emerges and there are several who who you can see moving into the frame.

Johnson’s reputation is based on the untested notion that he reaches voters that other potential leaders are unable to do. But he’s a bit older now and a reputation for playing the fool might not be the best recommendation for his parliamentary colleagues. He’s also known to be not that clubbable with fellow MPs a characteristic that might prove problematical once the voting starts.

This is, I believe, the first time ever that a prime minister will be chosen by the membership of a party. Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair in 2007 without being troubled by a contest and of course 3 years ago Theresa May got the job when Andrea leadsom, who had also made the final two, pulled out following her controversial comments about being a mother.

Mike Smithson



The big picture from the turnout figures so far annouced is that the more an area was for Remain the more people voted yesterday

Friday, May 24th, 2019

Although there has been no exit or other polling there has been a mass of data from the local authority areas that began verifying the ballots overnight.

The big picture so far is in the headline – there’s a correlation between the percentage of those who voted yesterday and what the area did at the referendum. So far it seems that the more for Leave places were the lower turnout levels there were yesterdsy.

Now we should be careful rushing to judgment here because all we have is data from a relatively small number of council area and, of course, what happened in the referendum. But if a significantly higher proportion of people voted in Remain area that does suggest that the Greens and LDs might be doing well.

There has been no information from London yet – the ballot verifications are taking place in the morning – but I’m increasingly confident that my 7/2 bets on the LDs winning the vote in the capital might be a winner.

The Tweet above is from Ashfield – a strong leave area where the turnout was low in comparison to, say, the 47% in the strong remain city of St Albans.

Mike Smithson


A 2019 general election moves up in the betting as the pressure mounts on TMay

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

One of the big political betting movements this afternoon has been on the timing of the next general election as can been from the chart. As far as I can see the reasoning is that TMay’s time at Number 10 is moving to a conclusion with much talk of a leadership contest before the summer break.

The only problem is that a new PM and leader would face exactly the same challenges that Mrs. May has struggled with over getting Commons agreement on an exit deal. It might be that her successor would seek to break the parliamentary deadlock by going to the country.

The problem with this is that calling a general election is exactly what the incumbent did in 2017 and ended up with fewer cON MPs and no overall majority. Would a new leader be prepared to gamble his or her new job?

Also would the next CON leader go to the country in the aftermath of Farage’s likely success in tomorrow’s Euros?

Whatever everything is deadlocked and something has to give.

Mike Smithson


The bets continue to pile on BoJo for next CON leader and PM

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

Although the timing of Theresa May’s departure as prime minister and CON leader has yet to be confirmed there’s little doubt that we are very close to a party leadership election which will be unique. For the first time party members will be deciding on who should be the next Prime Minister.

It should be recalled that previous CON leadership contests which have gone to the membership have been whilst the party has been in opposition.

The current election process involving the membership was brought in during William Hague’s leadership during the 1997-2001 parliament. The first winner under the new process of IDS who not too long afterwards got booted out by his parliamentary colleagues. The next CON leadership election to go to the members was between David Cameron and David Davis in 2005. The former won although the latter had been the long-term favourite.

Mrs May, of course, won the leadership and entered Number 10 without having to trouble the membership. The last two in 2016 were her and Andrea Leadsom but the latter stepped aside a few days afterwards leaving Theresa May with the job as a walk-in.
The biggest challenge for Boris is whether he can get through the first rounds of voting amongst CON MPs, It is they who decide who the two person shortlist should be. The membership polling suggests that the former-Mayor would walk it if he is able to get his name on the members’ ballot.

I’m not convinced that he can because there are widespread doubts about him within the parliamentary party.

Mike Smithson


Boost for Johnson in the first CON membership poll since TMay announced her exit timetable

Friday, May 17th, 2019

His biggest hurdle’s still getting through the MPs round

Quick off the mark we now have the first YouGov poll of CON members following the news that TMay agreed her exit timetable.

The poll was slightly different from the standard. Members who formed the sample were not asked who they would vote for but rather were presented with a list of nine names and asked to rank them. The outcome is in the Times Tweet above.

Sure Johnson is at the top, no surprise there, but quite a significant part of the sample rated him bottom. If the outcome is Boris as CON leader and PM  he’ll be heading a divided party. We haven’t seen the full poll detail yet but I wonder how many would have rated him at the bottom if fellow Etonian, Rory Stewart, had not been on the list.

It does say something about the current party that the two names at the bottom both had the same educational background. 

The first challenge, though, for Mr. Johnson is getting though the MP rounds of voting and here we have little data though I’ve no doubt that will be forthcoming.

In the betting Johnson is still favourite but has edged down a touch.

Mike Smithson




The Ladbrokes 7/2 that the LDs will come top in London looks a good value bet

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Today’s YouGov/Times Euros poll with a 7k+ sample has LAB on 15% nationally below the LDs who are now second in the race. The Tories on 9% are fifth behind the Greens.

All this should help the LDs underpin their claim to be the strongest anti-Brexit party in the three-way battle in England between them and CHUK and the Greens. In Scotland the strongest anti-Brexit party is the SNP and in Wales PC.

Looking at the betting the Ladbrokes London market is, as far as I can see, the first for a region and the latest odds are above. Hopefully there will be other regional markets put up.

This one is on votes and the standout bet for me the 7/2 that the LDs will be top in the capital. The YouGov poll has a large sample which means that the regional subsets are more meaningful. In London BXP are on 25%, the LDs 21% and LAB on 20%.

In 2014 UKIP got 16.87% of the London votes and it is hard to see BXP+UKIP getting that much more.

The LD 7/2 looks good value.

Mike Smithson


Following the firmer news on TMay’s exit Johnson declares that he’s running and moves to a 27% favourite in the betting

Thursday, May 16th, 2019 chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

So the CON backbenchers who have been unhappy with Mrs May’s handling of the brexit process have sort of got their way and there is agreed process for how she will go and when. The 1922 Chair Graham Brady summed up things like this:-

“We have agreed to meet to decide the timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative party as soon as the second reading has occurred and that will take place regardless of what the vote is on the second reading – whether it passes or whether it fails.”

Already ERG figures are wanting it earlier and Mr Johnson, the former London Mayor and Foreign Secretary, has made that he will be entering the race – developments which have led to more money going on him on the Betfair Exchange.

So the post by Alastair meeks that we published overnight was nicely timed and I think his assessment is good. Because it is not clear cut and there is a lot of anxiety in parts of the Conservative Party about whether Johnson is up to being Prime Minister we’re going to see a whole raft of names, possibly, coming in. Some have declared themselves already and had expect others to follow.

In all of this remember the old matra that the long term favourite for the CON leadership never gets its. Will Johnson be the one to break this “rule”?

Another factor is that we could be heading for a Maidenhead by-election if TMay decides to step aside as an MP once she is no longer PM.

Mike Smithson


The Conservative party sweepstake

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

The last rites have not yet been spoken and already the heirs are gathered around the deathbed and stripping the rings off Theresa May’s fingers. The collective assumption of most Conservative MPs, which may yet be wrong, is that the Conservative role of party leader is shortly to fall vacant. Who might her replacement be?

For all the difficulties that the role has, there is no shortage of volunteers. Many Conservative MPs look in the mirror, straighten themselves up, comb their hair and practise solemn expressions suitable for their eventual anointment.

Some have not bothered for the vacancy to arise before launching campaigns. Some have in practice been campaigning ever since Theresa May was elevated to the position. Some are testing the water now, making wide-ranging speeches and appearing in the Sunday magazines in posed photos with spouses and spice racks. And some are waiting for the call to serve, having first taken the precaution of letting it be known through unattributable briefings that the nation need not feel obliged to overlook them.

Let’s look at the packed field. The price given is in each case the last traded price on the Betfair next Conservative leader market.

Already announced

Esther McVey – the most unreconciled of the prominent Leavers. Spiky, a longterm hate figure for the left for reasons that have nothing to do with Brexit. Unlikely to be a healer. Could be a threat to the complacent male big beast Leavers in any campaign. (59/1)

Dominic Raab – first out of the blocks to declare his candidacy, endorsed by David Davis and Maria Miller. A Leaver who caved into the government on the third meaningful vote. Lacks any notable achievements or personality or any distinctive policy positions. Second favourite perhaps because of this. (7/1)

Rory Stewart – recently given an overdue (in his view) promotion to Cabinet and has immediately declared his candidacy. Wants to move on from Brexit. Almost certainly doomed as a consequence. (16/1)

Highly probable to stand

Michael Gove – the Leaver who has been most loyal to Theresa May (after his knifing of Boris Johnson last time around, perhaps he had to be). Obviously bright and curious, lacks any kind of public warmth or charm. Voter-repellent and does not look the part but possibly the only person acceptable to both wings of the Conservative party. When asked about standing: “No it’s not a no.” The loss of his campaign manager Nick Boles may prove important. Third favourite. (10/1)

Jeremy Hunt – member of the Cabinet since 2010, he has been the minister most effective at dousing fires in that time. A former Remainer who is now open to no deal Brexit. Appears unprincipled, which may be an advantage. Fourth favourite. (11/1)

Sajid Javid – Another former Remainer Cabinet minister who has sought to make his peace with Leavers. A similar candidate to Jeremy Hunt but without either the baggage or the track record. Drifting in the betting but to be watched closely: has potential. (23/1)

Boris Johnson – like the most-photographed barn in America, his longstanding claim to the leadership derives in large part from his longstanding claim to the leadership. Floundered hopelessly as Foreign Secretary and has offered no clear vision of Brexit since. Well-known but not well-liked either within Parliament or outside. Will definitely stand when the moment arises. Favourite. (7/2)


Matthew Hancock – another former Remainer who is looking to move the conversation on from Brexit. He would be a good choice on that basis. Has the air of a trendy vicar. Probably doomed. (16/1)

Liz Truss –an engaging speaker who is a gift to the parodists. Last seen in publicity shots posing like a discarded member of the Spice Girls reflecting on her career, she at least has a personality. The Tories could do a lot worse. They probably will and, as Liz Truss herself would say, That Is A Dis Grace. (69/1)

George Freeman – announced last year that if called upon he would stand. He is not obviously being called upon. (999/1)

Weighing their options

Steve Baker – apparently under the belief that there are not enough Leavers in the field. The equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy. Should be a no-hoper. Probably is a no-hoper.

John Baron – in the habit at the time of leadership contests of weighing his options. Supposedly very clever but apparently unable to appreciate that being unknown is an automatic disqualifier. (999/1)

Sir Graham Brady – head of the 1922 committee and a committed Leaver, well known by backbenchers and enthusiastic Conservatives, unknown by anyone else. Reportedly considering whether to stand, though why exactly is unclear. (84/1)

James Cleverly – youngish MP who has occasionally written something amusing on social media. No other obvious qualifications. (45/1)

Justine Greening – former Cabinet minister, Remain-supporting and in favour of a fresh referendum. Planning to run if no other centrist runs. Given the current Conservative party, that would be quixotic. Surely on defection watch. (499/1)

Mark Harper – former Chief Whip who voted Remain but initially opposed Theresa May’s deal. Couldn’t be picked out of an identity parade by most voters but apparently gathering support among MPs. Possibly a trading bet. (179/1)

Andrea Leadsom – one of a very select group of politicians whose reputation has been enhanced in this government. If she runs she should be a very serious candidate indeed. (27/1)

Johnny Mercer – young and good-looking, whose most notable achievement is starring in a shampoo advert. Currently exiling himself from the Conservative whip over long after-the-fact prosecutions of soldiers in the apparent belief that gives him a USP in the upcoming leadership election. (119/1)

Penny Mordaunt – newly in Cabinet, noted for starring in a TV diving competition and for directly lying in the referendum campaign about whether Britain had a veto over Turkey becoming a member of the EU. Personable and can’t be ruled out if she gets the backing to run. (19/1)

Nicky Morgan – former Cabinet minister who famously fell out with Theresa May over a pair of trousers. She has in return shown Theresa May far more loyalty than she deserved. A firm Remainer, she has sought to broker a compromise over Brexit, an aim as laudable as her solution was impracticable. A plausible unity candidate but the Conservative party does not look to be looking for a unity candidate just now. (469/1)

Priti Patel – steely and fluent former Cabinet minister, a vehement Leaver, most famous for being in favour of capital punishment and being sacked for devising her own foreign policy then lying about that.  A possibility in the same vein as Esther McVey if she chooses to run. (24/1)

Amber Rudd – an able and fluent minister with a personality but a formerly strong Remain supporter who has consistently argued for a softer Brexit, and therefore regarded with deep suspicion by most Leave supporters. As such holed beneath the waterline. Far more able than almost any conceivable winner. (47/1)

Tom Tugendhat – the anonymous Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee who apparently believes that destiny calls. He obviously has better hearing than the rest of us. (84/1)


Steve Barclay – current Brexit Secretary. Has somehow managed to avoid any attention or interest. (979/1)

Geoffrey Cox – capable and an engaging speaker, has demonstrated principles under pressure. Lacks a base but should be watched. (159/1)

Philip Hammond – it is extraordinary that the serving Chancellor of the Exchequer is completely out of contention, but he is. Such is the mania sweeping the Conservative party about Brexit. (109/1)

David Lidington – effectively Deputy Prime Minister at present. Like Philip Hammond, seen as far too pro-Remain to stand a chance with the rank and file. (189/1)

Declared non-runners

David Davis – supporting Dominic Raab despite apparently being better qualified for the job. Who doesn’t dare doesn’t win. (109/1)

David Gauke – has been making wide-ranging speeches but “when it comes to any future leadership election, my position is to resist the clamour to stand. I remain confident that my resistance will be greater than the clamour.” (679/1)

Nick Gibb – though he has found time to make a wide-ranging speech on the crisis of capitalism in which he set out his credo as a socially liberal Conservative. (999/1)

Jacob Rees-Mogg – to be fair, Mr R-M has long stated he was not looking to be next leader, though the betting markets long disbelieved him and he was the longtime favourite. Currently Betfair makes him more likely to be next Prime Minister than next Conservative leader. The course of events that would lead to that outcome takes some imagining. (69/1)


It’s a mess. No candidate stands out, which is why so many are thinking of going for it. As a general rule the able candidates are ruled out by their views on Brexit while the candidates with appropriate views on Brexit are ruled out by their ability.

My working assumption is that there are enough sane Conservative MPs to send at least one competent and experienced candidate to the last two. I therefore expect at least one of Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid to be in the last two, and possibly two. More likely, and especially if Brexit has not taken place by the time of the contest, the other position will be held by an unchallengeable Leaver.  

If you’re looking for a possibility who is favourably priced, look at some of the women in that group. Esther McVey, Priti Patel, Penny Mordaunt and even Nicky Morgan might be worth thinking about. But if she goes for it, Andrea Leadsom might be very hard to stop. If she were to win, the Conservatives might not immediately erupt into civil war. Right now, that’s about as good as they can hope for.

Alastair Meeks