Archive for the 'Theresa May' Category


Threatened women live longest. Bet against Theresa May going quickly

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

We read in the weekend papers that the Brexiters within the Conservative party are mustering for an attempt in July to despatch Theresa May, once Royal Assent has been received to the withdrawal bill.  Sources close to David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg are covering their retreat in the face of the Prime Minister’s obduracy over future customs arrangements with the EU with a hail of Parthian shots.  Her opponents already have 42 MPs ready to lodge letters for a vote of no confidence, we are told.  48 would mean that a vote would be held.  We are told to expect an “almighty reckoning”. 

Forgive me if I am sceptical.  Such Lear-like ravings threatening the terrors of the earth advertise Theresa May’s opponents’ weakness, not their strength.  If they were sure of their ground they would be acting now.  Because if they were sure of their ground they could impose their will on the rest of the party.  Evidently, they are not.

It’s worth recapping the mechanics of the Conservative Party leadership provisions. If at any time the chair of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, receives letters from 15% of Conservative MPs so requesting, a vote of confidence is held in the leader. The Conservatives have 316 MPs at present so that is where the figure of 48 MPs comes from.

The vote of confidence is then held by secret ballot among all MPs. If Theresa May wins, even by one vote, she cannot then be challenged for another year. If she loses, she must resign and is barred from standing in the subsequent leadership election contest. So the second important number of Conservative MPs is 158. It’s one thing to trigger a vote of confidence, you then have to win it.

Some suggest that Theresa May’s bar in practice is higher: how could she credibly govern if more than (say) 100 of her own MPs had privately declared that they had no confidence in her? This looks wrong to me. She has a year’s immunity from challenge.

She could and presumably would call for the party now to rally around her given that the question had been definitively settled for a year. She might even risk an aggressive reshuffle, safe from challenge from malcontents for 12 precious months. This would be unlikely to be to the benefit of the hardline Brexiters. You come at the queen, you best not miss.

How certain are the ERG and its penumbra of having 159 MPs ready to vote no confidence in Theresa May?  Not at all, I suggest.  They aren’t that numerous themselves.  So they’re going to have to persuade some of the less monomaniac of their colleagues to join forces with them. 

I have no doubt that there is a lot of dissatisfaction across the Conservative Parliamentary party with Theresa May.  But the question that has hovered over the party for a year now, keeping her in the role, and which has yet to land on a conclusion is: who would be better?  As importantly, who would get the job in practice?

If the ERG cannot identify a leadership solution that appeals to a broad enough cross-section of the Parliamentary party and, just as importantly, confirmation that unacceptable but potentially viable candidates are not going to be in the mix, unconvinced MPs will vote for Theresa May rather than risk making the problem worse. 

So the ERG would need first to identify a suitable candidate and then to persuade them to allow themselves to be advertised to doubters in such a way.  This is at best a work in progress.  From the outside it looks like a work not yet started.

All this leads me to believe that this story is an empty threat.  The ERG and its ministerial allies are seeking to cover their own weakness and perhaps to try to ensure that Theresa May does not seek to pull them further down the soft Brexit line.

Betfair have two markets on Theresa May’s exit date, one divided into quarters and one by year.  In the last few days I have been laying the possibility of her leaving between July and September 2018 at odds of under 3/1 and laying the possibility of her leaving in 2018 at odds of under 2/1.  Both odds have lengthened since, but the continuing absence of a potential successor who plotters can be confident of installing means that Theresa May is a lot safer than she looks.

If you disagree with me, there is an alternative bet (which is a good bet anyway).  Jacob Rees-Mogg is a highly divisive figure and the possibility of him becoming next leader would be anathema to many outside his coterie.  If Theresa May is to be deposed, he will need to make it quite clear that he will not stand for next Conservative leader, or the waverers will stick with the devil they know.  So he’s an easy lay at present prices, which have been drifting anyway, if you think action is imminent.

His route to next leader looks very difficult whatever your view of the timing of the election.  His present appeal is based around his positioning as Brexit’s Robespierre.  But by 29 March 2019, Britain will be on the outside of the EU and at that point Jacob Rees-Mogg becomes just another backbencher with a hobbyhorse. 

He might get there eventually (though he looks a poor bet to me, lacking anything other than superficial fluency and ideological orthodoxy) but it looks highly likely that the next Conservative leader will not have a double-barrelled name.  I’m keeping a big red number next to his name in my book and my current intention is to do so right the way to the contest itself.

Alastair Meeks


Soon there might not be a single Tory MP not p*ssed off at Theresa May’s duplicity (and or incompetence)

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

At least Mrs May can say she’s united the Tory Party on Brexit



The July plot to oust Mrs May

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

It appears the patience of the Brexiteers with Mrs May has expired.

Whilst the story involving the Russians is rightly dominating the front page of The Sunday Times, the other major story in the paper is the one which shows how close Mrs May came close to losing over 10 ministers this week, including several cabinet ministers and the majority of the ministers in the DExEU, and her job.

Mrs May’s approach to dealing with the backstop and David Davis has consequences, The Sunday Times report

Four sources said this weekend that there was a plot to unseat May after the withdrawal bill received royal assent, expected in the second week of July, the moment at which the referendum result becomes legally binding.

One source claimed that there were already 42 MPs prepared to trigger a vote of no confidence in May, six short of the number required. One MP said: “We will keep our heads down and then get rid of her. No one trusts her any more.” Another Brexiteer said: “Once the bill goes through there is going to be an almighty reckoning.”

Rees-Mogg texted MPs on Friday to urge caution until the bill is passed but allies say he will lift these restrictions once it has become law.

Another plan under discussion by the plotters is to boycott a Commons vote on an unimportant piece of legislation so May suffers a defeat in order to demonstrate their strength. “We’ll just fail to turn up one day,” one rebel said.

MPs close to Davis say the end could be nigh: “Last week was a dress rehearsal,” one said. Another source close to Davis said: “She thinks she won. She’s f***** anyway. She’s toast.”

Whilst delivering the Brexit Leave promised seems a near impossible job Theresa May has dealt a poor hand very badly. Nearly two years after the referendum she and her government have yet to sort out their positions on Brexit.  That she triggered Article 50 without sorting out the position has the potential to turn out to be the country’s biggest foreign policy blunder since Iraq.

But her other failing is the way she conducts herself, secretive and only sharing her plans with a small band of advisers leads to people feeling they are being ignored and bounced into decisions.

It appears the Brexiteers in the Tory Party have concluded ‘No Theresa is better than a bad Theresa’ but by ousting Mrs May they have increased the chances of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.


PS – If the plotters oust Theresa May on July 20th then I’m expecting a lot of Godwin’s Law that day.


Theresa May has finally united the country on Brexit

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

An overwhelming majority think Brexit is going badly.

Brexit has appeared to be the issue that tears the United Kingdom asunder yet the finding by YouGov shows there’s one aspect that is uniting the country. 73% of the country think Brexit is going badly with even an overwhelming majority of both Remainers and Leavers saying it is going badly.

Whilst critics of Mrs May might use these findings to criticise her these findings could help her.

With expectations very low on Brexit a moderately successful deal on Brexit has the potential to be seen a very good deal which leads to boost for Mrs May and the Tories. After all success equals performance minus anticipation.


PS – A big shout out to the 4% who thought Brexit would go badly but think it is going well. Exactly how low were their expectations?


Theresa May’s staunchest supporter in the media announces his departure but could it be good news for her?

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Picture: Depending on your view the (in)famous Daily Mail front page the day after Theresa May called a snap election.

Last night it was announced that the editor of The Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, would stand down from the role in November. Given how unlucky Mrs May has been it would be no surprise to see her staunchest supporter in the print media replaced by George Osborne, who as editor of The Mail might not be so supportive of Theresa May as Paul Dacre.

Ladbrokes have put up a market on who will be Dacre’s successor. I don’t know enough about The Mail to confidently bet on this market, but I expect it won’t be George Osborne. Even though George Osborne’s tenure at The Evening Standard has been a success the time David Cameron tried to get Lord Rothermere to sack Paul Dacre for his pro-Brexit views might be held against Mr Osborne.

The timing of Dacre’s departure is interesting, which is around the time our Brexit deal is being finalised, with the favourite to succeed Dacre being the relatively pro-European editor of the Mail on Sunday. If Mrs May offers a relatively soft Brexit she might not be monstered by The Daily Mail which could make a soft Brexit an easier sell to her party and the country.


PS – This is my favourite Daily Mail front page featuring Theresa May.




Polling boost for TMay as she takes a “best PM” lead amongst young voters for first time since GE2017

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Corbyn could be losing his advantages with the youth vote

The narrative that started following the shock general election result last June was that Corbyn and his party had managed tap into the youth vote who were turning out in greater numbers than at recent elections.

Much of this can be seen in looking at the age splits to leadership ratings and who would make the best prime minister findings from different pollsters since the election. Certainly up to now Labour and Corbyn have continued to attract the support of the young in greater numbers than the Conservatives.

But the detailed data from the Observer Opinium poll paints a very different picture. In every published survey since the election Opinium had found that the Labour leader had clear leads amongst the young segment to the “best PM” question when the options are TMay or Corbyn.

This had been narrowing, as can be seen in the chart, but Corbyn had retained a constant lead amongst the young until this latest one.

Now Theresa May is the top choice for the 18-34 year old segment with a lead of 4%. Quite why this should be is hard to say given that young voters are much more likely to be pro the EU and hostile to the referendum outcome.

It could be that Corbyn and his party are continuing to be damaged by the equivocation over Brexit and the ongoing difficulties in relation to antisemitism.

As we say with all polling analysis we need to look at further surveys before coming to firm conclusions but this is one to watch.

Mike Smithson


Punters now make it a 32% chance that TMay will be out this year

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

With all the machinations that are going on within the cabinet over the divisions on Brexit it is perhaps no wonder that here has been renewed interest on betting that she’ll be out this year.

The chart above shows the movement over the past month with next year, presumably post-Brexit, continuing to be the favourite.

Certainly Mrs. May has a huge challenge dealing with the increasing number of Brexit issues and this hasn’t been helped by Corbyn’s new approach to PMQs, coming with a tight script that he keeps to, which have exposed some of her weaknesses.

    But I remain to be convinced. She’ll stay simply because there isn’t an obvious successor who has broad support and that situation doesn’t exist at the moment.

She’s also helped by the Tories doing better than expected in this month’s local elections and the slight decline in the Labour polling position.

Her problem is the memory within the party of how she performed last June when her gamble failed and her lack campaigning skills were very much exposed.

Mike Smithson


Why TMay should choose as HomeSec Nicky Morgan – the woman who criticised her £1000 leather trousers

Monday, April 30th, 2018

This could make the passage of the Brexit Bill easier

Two years ago Nicky Morgan got dropped from the cabinet and since then has been one of the most vocal and effective critics of the government’s Brexit policy. It has been said that there’s a huge gulf between them following an argument between her and the Prime Minister over the former’s criticism of Theresa May’s £1000 leather trousers.

Since then Morgan has become one of the key senior players in the House of Commons doing her best to impede Brexit. We don’t know what Amber Rudd is now going to do but she was a keen Remainer and maybe she will join the group that that at the very least wants a soft Brexit.

This of itself makes the parliamentary situation for the PM even tighter for whilst in the cabinet Mrs Rudd would always vote with the government. Now there’s a danger that she could vote against on key issues which given the precariousness of the Tory parliamentary position could be damaging.

The mathematics are simple: If a rebel CON MP votes against the government that is effectively worth two votes – one fewer in the for column and one more in the against.

So as a way of blunting Morgan’s effectiveness the PM should bring her back into the cabinet and what better offer could there be than one of the main offices of state Home Secretary. This was the same rationale for appointing and keeping Boris Johnson in the cabinet although, of course, he is a leaver.

The current betting favourite is Sajid Javid.

Mike Smithson