Archive for the 'Theresa May' Category


TMay hasn’t had front pages like this since she made the fateful decision to call GE2017

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Mike Smithson


Betfair punters make it about an evens chance that TMay will be out next year – I’m not tempted

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

A no confidence move is highly risky for any plotters

One of the great jobs of returning from a longish holiday is reviewing how things have changed while you’ve been away and the biggest move over the past three weeks is how the Chequers Brexit plan is gathering support. Maybe the Mail was following rather than leading. TMay’s big gamble might just succeed.

What is this going to do to her future career prospects?

It is being widely said within the Conservative Party that after Brexit, March 29th next year, Mrs. May will go and there will be a leadership election. I’m not convinced. She’s mentioned a couple of times that her plan is to stay on and what is the party going to do if the woman who has by then delivered Brexit wants to stay put?

Are we really going to see an attempt to oust her if she makes it clear that she won’t go of her own accord?

To get rid of Mrs May 15% of MPs have to write to the chairman of the 1922 committee demanding a confidence vote. The key number is not the 15% of MPs but whether the desire to oust her is backed by 50% plus one of the Parliamentary party – 158. The downside for ousters is that if there is a confidence vote that she survives, even by just a single vote, Mrs May would be safe in the job for a further year. So those wanting her out could actually be giving her greater job security.

These latest rules were created when William Hague was leader in the first Blair government are totally different from that which is existed in Mrs Thatcher’s time something that many commentators don’t seem to appreciate.

The overwhelming factor in the event of a confidence vote will be who would be the successor and here the party is totally split.

    If ousting May is perceived to increase the chances of Johnson becoming leader that will surely inhibit many CON MPs from voting for TMay to go in a confidence ballot.

The former mayor who uses terms like suicide vests to describe Mrs May’s Brexit approach has far less support amongst his parliamentary colleagues than might be appreciated.

I wonder as well if TMay might be helped by the “time never being ripe” for a leadership contest. If she went soon after March 29th that would conflict with the May locals. It was the “this is not the right time” element in the 2008-2010 period which helped Gordon Brown to struggle on. There was always a reason why a leadership election shouldn’t happen and eventually we got to the election itself.

The need for 158 CON MPs to back it and the consequences of a failed move make the no confidence option unattractive. It is no wonder that it hasn’t happened so far.

I’ve already lost money betting on this market (I was on a 2017 exit) that I’m not going to risk any more.

Mike Smithson


The Daily Mail’s change of tone Brexit should help Mrs May sell her Brexit deal

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Welcome to this Bizarro world where in the eyes of the Daily Mail traitors are the hard Brexiteers.

The tweets atop this thread show some excerpts from various editions of the Daily Mail this week we can see the impact of Geordie Greig taking over the editor’s chair last week, it appears the Mail’s tone on Brexit has changed.

The Guardian observes

The initial editions of the Mail under Greig appear to suggest a more nuanced editorial line, where a soft Brexit is a price worth paying to keep Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, out of No 10. The shift is in line with what Daily Mail insiders told the Guardian last week.

So if one of the staunchest supporters of Brexit is softening their support that should help Theresa May sell to the country a Brexit deal that isn’t quite as Brexity as the ERG would wish. I suspect out the Sun and Telegraph only the Telegraph wouldn’t support a pragmatic Brexit. I’m not sure how the Daily Express now see themselves now they are aligned with the Mirror Group.

What a world we live in that the Daily Mail might be the best hope of a soft Brexit/BINO.



After delivering Brexit TMay’s follow-on objective will be blocking Boris4PM

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

The Cape Town message is that she’s not going of her own accord

With Mr Corbyn apparently totally secure as Labour leader for as long as he wants the main UK political betting activity, as we get ready for the conference season, is focused on the Tories particularly on Mrs May’s survival.

There was a widespread view following the last general election 15 months ago that she will be “allowed” to stay in the post until Brexit has been achieved and then she will be going. Based on what she has said in Cape Town that does not fit with her own view of her personal situation. This is from the Guardian report link to in the Tweet above:

When asked specifically if she would contest a leadership challenge from Johnson, the former foreign secretary, May said she hoped to fight on as prime minister: “I am in this for the long term. I am in this for delivering for the British people, and that’s what I’m focused on.”

Under current CON leadership rules there can be no “challenge from Boris” only an MP no confidence move to force her out. This is not like it was in Mrs Thatcher’s final days.

Katy Balls in her latest email from the Spectator, the magazine that Johnson used to edit, has this interpretation:

“..A number of May’s inner circle privately concede that her departure is not a matter of if but when. Although most Tory MPs still think that she should steer the party through the final stages of Brexit — if only to ensure Britain does actually leave — there is a growing consensus that her job will then be done. ‘It’s very difficult to justify her existence past March,’ explains a normally loyal MP. Ministers who still stand behind her do so on a number of caveats. ‘If she doesn’t give a resignation timetable after Brexit, there will be moves against her,’ explains one cabinet minister.

Given that there isn’t much of a happy precedent when it comes to prime ministers pre-emptively announcing their exit, perhaps insisting one is in it for ‘the long term’ is the least worst option.”

I’m not convinced because I don’t believe there’s the stomach within the Parliamentary party to oust her. And like Gordon Brown in the years ahead of GE2010 the longer she survives the closer it gets to the next general election and the less the case for a potentially divisive leadership contest.

What really underpins her position is the suggestion that she would be succeeded by the former Mayor of London and ex-Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson, who is, according to the latest ConHome membership surveys, the top preference for next leader. His challenge is that he’s not popular with fellow party MPs whose votes would be required first to oust her and then to make the top two in the CON MP election to choose the final two to go to the membership.

Betfair has it as a 48% chance that she’ll be out next year. I’m far from convinced.

Mike Smithson


2019 now rated as a 44% chance as the year that TMay ceases to be PM

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Could she go all the way to 2022?

This is one of those betting markets that we return to time and time again. Because clearly there cannot be a leadership contest without a vacancy and at the moment Theresa May is sticking in there and looks reasonably certain to remain until Brexit.

I find it somewhat amusing when I get correspondence from bookmakers and Boris backer, Arron Banks, alerting me to a leadership fight within the next 3 months. Theresa May is not going to go of her own accord. She has a sense of duty to see Brexit through and that means no movement before March 29th next year.

While Mr Johnson is seen as the likely successor, at least by the betting markets, then not enough Tory MPs are going to support a move that would oust Mrs May. Stick with Nurse. She’s safe because the alternative is seen as far far worse. But will that pertain beyond March 29th?

I just wonder what is going to happen next year, So many Conservative MPs have said that there’s no chance that she will be allowed to lead the party into another general election campaign given how poorly she performed in the last one. But are they going to oust her and risk someone like publicity-seeking ex-mayor who is loathed by many of his colleagues?

This all reminds me of the 2007-2010 period when all sorts of plans to oust Gordon Brown were reported and none of them came to fruition.

She could even outlast Mr. Corbyn.

Mike Smithson


ICM poll: Tories would be worse off if either BoJo or Moggsy succeeds TMay

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

And the Washington Post describes TMay as “A Great PM”

Those of us who were around following the polls in 2007 remember how the succession of Gordon Brown as Labour leader was going to undermine the red team. Poll after poll found LAB’s position deteriorating when Brown name was mentioned and I certainly took that on board.

As it turned out the new Labour leader gave the party a huge boost in his first three months as leader. Browns personal leadership ratings soared while Cameron’s dropped to the lowest point ever. LAB looked to be in a very strong position and all the talk was of an early General Election.

It all fell flat for Brown after his dithering over whether to call an October 2007 General Election or not. He never went on to match the numbers he had seen during his political honeymoon.

All of his has made me some what sceptical about poll findings like the one featured in the Guardian article.

Generally whoever succeeds as prime minister gets a big boost because all the attention is on them and, of course, they aren’t their predecessor. Brown in June-October 2007 had the benefit of not being Tony Blair while TMay two years moved up because she wasn’t Cameron.

Meanwhile there’s a remarkable upbeat feature on TMay in the Washington Post.

Mike Smithson


The end of an era. Sir Paul Dacre is said to have edited his last Daily Mail

Monday, August 13th, 2018

We can expect fewer powerful pro-Brexit front pages like these?

The biggest political development over the weekend, I’d suggest, was the report in the Observer about the replacement of Paul Dacre as Daily Mail editor with the Geordie Gregg, of the Mail on Sunday, who has taken a totally different view of the referendum outcome.

Gregg will start in September a couple of months earlier than planned and it is hard to see, given his views, him carrying on with Dacre’s strident approach epitomised in a whole series of striking front pages. UK Press Gazette is reporting that “Dacre is understood to have edited his last Daily Mail

The Mail is enormously powerful both because it has the second largest UK circulation and by some margin the busiest online presence. There’s little doubt that it has a big influence on public opinion. The Observer report noted:

“The incoming editor of the Daily Mail has indicated that he will only gradually tone down the strident pro-Brexit agenda espoused by his predecessor when he takes the helm at the powerful rightwing tabloid at the beginning of next month.

Geordie Gregg has told staff not to expect an immediate change in political coverage when he takes the reins from Dacre who spent 26 years in charge, for fear of alienating readers and because the wider political situation is so uncertain. Instead the focus will be on ensuring that the country achieves the least damaging form of Brexit and developing a more nuanced editorial line by next spring, a shift in emphasis that will be welcomed in Downing Street, where Theresa May is battling to control a revolt from the right of her party.

The planned Greig approach of achieving the least damaging form of Brexit appears to chime with that which is being followed by TMay.

The changeover could also impact on whether there’s a CON leadership challenge and the position of the Etonian hard line Brexiter duo of Moggsy and BoJo. It is hard to see them getting the backing from Greig that you’d expect Dacre to have given?

This, of course, comes at a key time in the Brexit negotiations and in the run-up to the party conferences.

Mike Smithson


This poll just about sums Brexit up – 60% don’t care what happens over Brexit they just want it to be over

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

This is good news for TMay

I’m starting to like some of the original output from DeltaPoll – the new pollster established a few months ago with Martin Boon, ex-ICM and Jo Twyman ex-YouGov at the helm.

In this question which came out during the week I think they’ve touched the mood of the nation. This seems to have gone on for so long and people are just bored.

Notice in the splits that Remainers are less likely to take this view but then that is understandable.

It is against this background, I’d suggest, that TMay’s Chequers strategy might eventually resonate. Her plan is essentially BINO, Brexit in Name Only, and is designed to honour the referendum result while causing as little damage as possible to the economy.

A lot now could depend on Labour and how influential Corbyn remains within the party. His strong pro-Brexit stance is very much out of line with his party supporters but he has held to it until now. The party conference, however, could be interesting with a big move going on to get backing for another referendum.

The antisemitism row has clearly weakened him and whether he can continue to stick with his policy on that and hold firm on his Brexit approach is very much a moot point.

Mike Smithson