Archive for the 'BREXIT' Category


Six of the top seven in the betting on Corbyn’s successor are women

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Chart of Betfair exchange prices from

How will leadership hopefuls vote on the key Commons brexit moves?

With Corbyn’s announcement that he’ll step down if he fails to lead LAB to victory in the general election there’s renewed interest in the betting on who will be the successor. We could be only a few months from a contest.

Two factors stand out. Firstly there’s a widespread view within the movement, including from the boss of UNITE, that LAB needs to have a female leader and that clearly is having an impact on punters and the party. The other factor is Brexit and how those likely to be contenders use the their votes in the coming big decisions in the Commons.

An indication of how important this is was the Euro election in May, Then YouGov polling of the party membership found that just 45% had supported their party. 19% had gone for the Greens, 15% the LDs and 2% CHUK. Just 4% had voted for Farage’s Brexit party.

This suggests that the membership is pro-remain – a factor that we saw at the party conference last month when the approach to Brexit was being resolved. My guess is that even those closest to the incumbent are going to be mindful of the anti-Brexit nature of the electorate.

This could be crucial if it comes to agreeing or blocking a deal and any move on a second referendum.

Mike Smithson


At the end of the tunnel

Friday, October 11th, 2019

One of the many quirks of Brexit is that things look brightest when we’re in a tunnel. The announcement on Friday that the government’s latest proposals had gone into private intensive discussions caused market sentiment to soar, as well as the hopes of many political observers.

What does it all mean?  Well, since everyone is being uncharacteristically tight-lipped, it’s impossible to tell really. That hasn’t stopped endless speculation.

We can, however, set out the parameters. The last time that Parliament considered a deal was the third Meaningful Vote. It was defeated by 58. If Boris Johnson is to get a deal that will pass Parliament, he will have to do better (and, indeed, not lose any existing supporters). To be precise, he needs a net 29 to change sides in his favour.

Here is the current state of play in Parliament:

Conservative 288

Labour 245

SNP 35

Independents 35

Lib Dems 19

DUP 10

Sinn Fein 7

Independent Group for Change 5

Plaid Cymru 4

Green 1

Speaker 1

Who does he have to persuade? 34 Conservatives voted against it. Five of those are no longer Conservatives and look no more amenable than they did before. A sixth Remainer, Jo Johnson, might give his brother a sympathy shag, but that looks doubtful too. The other 28 are all militant Leavers. It has been suggested that Boris Johnson could now rely on the power of preferment to get more of them onside, but in fact only three of the hardcore Leavers, Priti Patel, Theresa Villiers and James Duddridge, are ministers. 

So there are 25 more MPs who can afford to remain true to their principles without cost if they are so inclined. This idea that the hardcore rebels are magically more biddable is not resting on patronage.

Whether they are so inclined will depend in considerable part on the reaction of the DUP. Their 10 MPs opposed the last deal on every occasion. Sammy Wilson has already fired warning shots.

The Lib Dems can be expected to show testicular fortitude opposing whatever deal Boris Johnson might come up with. So can the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the bulk of the Labour party. Just five Labour MPs voted for the deal last time around and only one of the independents last time who voted against (John Woodcock) looks even potentially persuadable. 

19 Labour MPs, however, wrote to the European Commission beseeching them to look for a deal. Boris Johnson will hope to pick up their votes and perhaps some more Labour MPs as well (Lisa Nandy has estimated 40 Labour MPs are working towards a cross-party deal).  They may, however, insist on extracting a price.

The movement may not all be one way. At least one Conservative MP has repented of his support of the last meaningful vote and others may follow if they regard the revised deal as selling out Northern Ireland. Lady Sylvia Hermon – who is after all a unionist, albeit an unusual one – may find it difficult to support a deal if it treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.

All of this means that the numbers look challenging, but not necessarily impossible.  Much will depend on the deal actually struck, the willingness of the Spartans to accept a figleaf if offered and the newfound desperation of some Labour MPs to accept a deal.

Oh, and all this assumes that a deal is found in the first place. Still, let’s keep that faint candle flickering for now.

Alastair Meeks


2020 or later now betting favourite for when the next general election will be held

Friday, October 11th, 2019

On a big political day the money on Betfair, according to the has been going on the next general election taking place next year or later. This option has just edged December from the favourite slot.

I’ve never been convinced of December because staging such a vote when the day’s are shortest and voters attentions are focused on the holiday never looked like a possibility.

Meanwhile Corbyn has announced that he’ll step down as LAB leader if his party loses the coming election. Whether this will help or hinder the party is hard to say. He has the distinction of receiving the worst ratings ever for an opposition leader and all the past experience is that leader numbers are the best guide to electoral outcomes.

Also in the betting a no deal Brexit this year has dropped to a 12% chance.

Mike Smithson


The mood changes on Brexit but the devil will be in the detail

Friday, October 11th, 2019

A UK Brexit by the end of the year now 38% betting favourite

Judging by today’s front pages the prospect for a deal on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU look better than ever. Certainly Johnson’s meeting with his Irish counterpart on the Wirral yesterday looks very promising but at the moment we do not know exactly what concessions have been made and whether that will be acceptable to the DUP.

A political problem of course is that there are two communities in Northern Ireland, but that only one of them the protestants, sends MPs to Westminster. Sinn Fein competes in elections and wins a clutch of seats which it never fills.

There’s also been the issue that Stormont has been suspended for nearly two years because of the failure of the DUP and Sinn Fein to agree. One positive thing of the current situation over Brexit is that it might get the Parliament in Belfast functioning again.

A key part of the the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 was that both communities should share power and that has not always been easy to achieve.

The DUP, which got just 36% of the Northern Irish vote at the last general election has always made its red line that this part of the UK should not be treated differently from other parts. How they will react to what was discussed yesterday day is is a big question though so it is going to be hard for them to oppose something that that has wide agreement elsewhere.

One thing we do know know is that the overall agreement has to be sanctioned by the House of Commons something that Theresa May struggled to achieve and failed three times.

I think we could now see see opponents of Brexit at Westminster seeking to ensure that the deal is agreed by a confirmatory referendum. It becomes harder to argue against that once we know exactly what is involved. 

The mood on the Brexit betting markets has changed but it is still only a 38% chance on the Betfair Exchange that the UK will leave the EU by the end of the year. Before yesterday it was about 30%.

Mike Smithson


The pressure mounts from Britain’s biggest car manufacturer

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

Expect more of this in run-up to October 31st

This is hardly surprising given the complexity of the motor manufacturing industry and how difficult things could potentially get if there is a No Deal Brexit.

It is not just the jobs at the assembly plant in Sunderland that are at stake but thousands of others in component supply in firms which have flourished because of the presence of the big Japanese manufacturers in the UK.

Toyota with it’s big Derby plant, has also issued warnings and and there was a Tweet some weeks ago stating that a no deal Brexit could lead to an immediate shutdown of production there.

Honda has also announced it’s intentions to leave but stated that this was not directly brexit-related but a rationalization of its production facilities in Europe.

We can expect a lot more warnings like this in the next few days until such time as there is resolution to the No Deal brexit issue.

All this, of course, will add to the pressure on ministers and provide more ammunition for those wanting a second referendum.

Mike Smithson


The pact that will make the Commons seat predictors a lot less useful next time

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Heidi’s pro-Remain electoral deal could impact on 70+ seats

A story that’s got hidden in all the Brexit news was this on SkyNews about Heidi Allen, the South Cambridgeshire ex-CON MP who this week joined the LDs.

She told the news channel that Remain-backing parties, the LDs, GRN and PC, have come to an agreement whereby only one of them will compete in 70+ key seats in England and Wales. Also agreed is that these parties will not put up candidates in seats where a Remain-backing independent is seeking re-election.

Over the past few months Heidi has been brokering this arrangement which is designed to create a much bigger grouping at the general election.

We have not seen the details and the seats involved might only become apparent when nominations close for the general election.

A forerunner of this was at the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the start of August when the Greens and PC stood aside to give the LDs a clear runs in a seat that in 2016 had voted leave. It worked.

From a betting perspective we must assume that PC and the Greens will benefit as well as the LDs. I’ve already got a buy General Election spread bet on the Greens and I’ve just had a similar punt on PC.

This arrangement also means we should take less notice of the Commons seat predictors which use as their base line what happened at GE2017.

Mike Smithson


The polling trend that suggests a Cummings “People v Parliament” battle over Brexit might struggle

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

The Evening Standard is carrying an analysis this afternoon of how opinion over Brexit has moved since the referendum in 2016. It is based on 300 polls and responses to its “Brexit right or wrong” and how respondents would now vote.

What helps this analysis is that it is based on so many polls and does show a smallish but significant shift. The report points out that since GE2017 in J 204 out of 226 poll have Remain ahead, with just seven for Leave. There were 15 ties.

YouGov’s Anthony Wells is quoted as saying “The polling evidence is concrete. The overwhelming majority of questions asking people if Brexit is right or wrong, or if they would now vote Remain or Leave, show a lead for Remain, and have done for over two years..

“The characterisation of the situation as People vs Parliament doesn’t really stand up when the public are split over Brexit. It is more a case of half the public vs half of Parliament.

Mike Smithson


It’s looking like a no-deal brexit or else an Article 50 extension

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

If the front pages have this right then the chances of Johnson getting his deal through look very thin indeed and so the only options remaining are a no-deal Brexit or else it’s an Article 50 extension.

The latter,  of course, would breach the the deadlines that Johnson set for himself on taking over at Number 10 and the consequences of such a move are very hard to fathom. The big plan, I guess, is for there to be an extension but for it to be seen that this has not been because of Johnson.

This could be dangerous stuff and I wonder whether we might hear calls for Theresa May’s deal to be resurrected and to be put to MPs again. This, of course, has been rejected three times already.

The problem is Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago which brought an end to the troubles that so dominated the politics of these islands from the late 60s onwards.

It was because the Irish Republic and the UK were both in the EU that made such an agreement possible. That is why it has been so hard finding a solution that works for Brexit and is politically acceptable.

In retrospect Theresa May’s deal with the Irish backstop was an elegant solution and was actually a huge compromise by the EU27 something that has not been fully appreciated in the UK.

Another referendum appears to be be increasingly talked about and I wonder whether that might gather momentum as we approach this critical time period. Could we see a backbench bill being put forward and getting the backing of MPs? There might just be a possibility of that getting through. This would probably delay a general election.

Mike Smithson