Archive for the 'Theresa May' Category


How the “deal” has impacted on the main UK political betting markets

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

The biggest gamble’s been on TMay surviving the year

The money’s piled on an election next year


Raab soared in the TMay successor betting

All charts based on Betfair exchange prices by

Mike Smithson


If the ERG plotters get their 48 letters today and TMay loses the vote she’ll likely still be there at the end of the year

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

At one stage in my career I used to advise Betfair on the precise market rules for its political markets. These are critically important because an exchange like Betfair stands in between those who are laying bets and those who are backing and needs to have something to fall back on should there be a disagreement. So anytime you want to make a political bet it is important for your own protection to check the market rules.

The currently heavy traded date of TMay’s exit Betfair market defines it in these simple terms  “When will Theresa May officially cease to be leader of the Conservative Party?”

So if she lost a confidence vote tomorrow my reading is that she would remain in post until such time as the process of selecting a new leader had been completed and there was a winner.

There is a relatively recent precedent – IDS in October/November 2003. He lost the confidence vote of CON MPs on October 29th 2003 but remained leader until November 6th when Michael Howard won the leadership unopposed. The differences between now and 15 years ago is that the CON leader is PM and it is highly likely that there will be a contest.

The first part of a contest, MPs voting to draw up the final shortlist of 2 to go to the membership could be truncated by having a number of MP ballots on the same day. The membership postal ballot would be much more difficult given that we are fast heading to Christmas.

Given the uncertainties of the post at this time of year it is hard to see how the packs could be produced mailed and party members given time to fill in their ballots and return them within the time that is available this side of the holiday.

It might be recalled that in 2007 Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne who fought it out for the Lib Dem leadership with a deadline for the return of ballot in mid December. There were reports that a sack of returned  packs had been held up in the mail and even though they arrived while the count was taking place they did not get there before the deadline and were ignored. That caused a lot of controversy particularly because Clegg’s winning margin was so small.

I would suggest that it would be extremely difficult for a Conservative leadership election ballot to be completed before the Christmas and they probably would leave it over to the New Year.

This is important for those betting in the TMay exit date market. If my reading is right those betting on her surviving until at least the New Year could well be winners already.

Mike Smithson


A big reason TMay is defying political gravity is because of the possible alternatives

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Last year my biggest political betting loss was on Theresa May not surviving. Like many others after her disappointing GE2017 outcome I was ready to write off her chances of staying at number 10.

Well 18 months on she is still there and I now approach the end of the year with completely the opposite betting position. My money is on the Prime Minister being the Prime Minister and Tory leader at the end of the year.

This is a market which as seen huge amount of turbulence in the last few days as the political world has digested the draft agreement on Brexit. At one stage on Friday Betfair had her as a 62% chance to be out this year. As I write this post that is now below 30% and could ease even further as we get closer to the year end.

    Whatever Moggsy and the ERG gang might hope I don’t think there is the stomach within the parliamentary Conservative Party for a leadership challenge at this crucial stage.

Even if 48 letters are received by Graham Brady then it still has to come to a vote and it is possible that the detractors would struggle to secure the support of 150 plus MPs which will be required for TMay to be ousted as CON leader.

The above ComRes/Sunday Express polling published yesterday highlights what is proving to be TMay’s firewall – the lack of a consensus amongst voters about a likely successor. All four names polled have big negative figures. If there is a confidence vote then many CON MPs are likely to be concerned that they could be providing the mechanism for someone they don’t want becoming leader and PM.

The other factor that I believe is constraining Tory MPs is that if there was a confidence vote this week that Mrs May won then she would be guaranteed to be able to stay in post free from confidence challenges until November 2019.

The argument for holding their fire until after Brexit in March next year is quite persuasive.

Mike Smithson


At one point this morning punters made it a 55% chance that TMay would be out this year

Friday, November 16th, 2018

That’s now dropped sharply

When you get dramatic political days like today it is interesting for gamblers to look back and see how betting prices have moved as events have unfolded.  The chart above shows the last 24 hours on the “which year will Mrs May leave” betting market on Betfair. The odds are shown as percentages.

As can be seen this morning from about 0900 the money started piling on Mrs May going before the end of the year with the market reaching a peak of just over 55%. It is dropped down a fair bit and currently as I write an exit this year is rated as a 36% chance.

As I reported on a thread header earlier I’m backing Mrs My to survive 2018 though I expect the odds to move quite sharply should the required 48 signatures for a confidence vote before coming.

My guess is that if there is a ballot then Theresa May will survive simply because her ousting would trigger an immediate leadership contest with all the uncertainties that that entails.

What has not happened is a unifying figure in emerging with in the party.  When the Conservatives leader confidence procedure was used in 2003 against Iain Duncan Smith there was broad consensus within the party that Michael Howard should be a successor.

We simply don’t have a similar situation at the moment and that is probably Theresa May’s greatest defence. I have to say that I think she has performed against adversity remarkably well in the circumstances and at least her voice is holding up.

Mike Smithson


Moggsy’s TM confidence vote gamble could rebound into a confidence vote on himself

Friday, November 16th, 2018

He’ll look weak if not enough fellow CON MPs follow

Yesterday the old Etonian father of six, Jacob Rees-Mogg, took a massive gamble when he had an impromptu press conference outside the palace of Westminster in which he declared his lack of confidence in the state-school educated Mrs May. He announced that he had sent a letter calling for a confidence vote and it looked as though the other 47 letters needed were either there or would be arriving quickly.

He built up the expectation that others would follow and that maybe we could have had an announcement from Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee, last night that a confidence vote had been triggered.

Well now that hasn’t happened and each hour that goes on without news from Mr Brady will increase suggestions that this attempt to get rid of the prime minister is struggling.

    The most important thing when you’re mounting a coup is to get a body quickly and that does not seem to have happened. Could it be that Moggsy has overstated his position?

If this proves to be the case, and the next day or so will reveal that, he will have actually strengthened the position of Theresa May who has been trying to steer a very difficult course on the EU exit over the last few months.

Currently on Betfair 2018 as TMay’s exit year is rated as a 43% chance. I’m laying that which means I win if she is still in post on New Year’s day 2019.

Mike Smithson


Mrs. May survives the day getting cabinet backing for the deal and there’s been no Vote of Confidence move

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

On Betfair the money goes on a 2018 TMay exit

Well all those who were predicting that today there would be a cabinet rebellion on the Brexit deal and a possible vote of no confidence move against Mrs May have been proved wrong. Yet again the most resilient leader of recent times continues to defy political gravity.

The next stage its for this to go to the House of Commons and that might not be as easy as today has apparently been for the prime minister. Sure the cabinet meeting went on for a whole lot longer than anybody was expecting but she got the result that she wanted.

Her big view is that leavers will come around to supporting her position because the alternative could be a No Deal, a referendum, or no brexit at all. For all its faults what’s that’s been agreed with Brussels does provide a pathway for an exit from the EU on March 29th next year.

Her great strength with all those who oppose her position is the threat of what could happen if the arrangement is not backed.

I’m coming to the view that the biggest challenge now might be fending off the growing demand for a people’s vote. Remainers have become emboldened.

Mike Smithson


The Brexit deal is being put to the Cabinet one by one

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

But what are the chances of success?

So the brexit process moves a step forward with a broad agreement that Theresa May now has to sell to her cabinet, then her party, and then the House of Commons.

Each of these hurdles looks insurmountable but then Theresa May has got over many obstacles in the 18 months since she lost the party its majority and is determined enough to push this as hard as she is able.

If Brexiteers like BoJo simply keep on with their tedious repetition of the phrase “vassal state” without doing any serious thinking then she might have a chance.

    At the end of the day the choice for MPs looks set to be between her Deal, No Deal, and the possibility of Mr Corbyn becoming PM. The latter is as horrifying to many Labour MPs as it is to Tories.

The betting markets move towards the UK leaving the EU as planned on March 29th.

Bring on BINO.

Mike Smithson


April 2019: month of chaos

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

A No Deal Brexit is now highly likely in March

Nothing has changed: words that might well form Theresa May’s epitaph. Unfortunately for her, unless something does, that epitaph will be needed sooner rather than later. With less than five months until the Brexit deadline, both the parliamentary maths and the European diplomacy remain resolutely irresoluble. Nothing has changed.

Some might argue that’s a favourable interpretation; that Jo Johnson’s resignation yesterday indicated the maths are getting worse for the PM but that wouldn’t be quite right. To some extent, these resignations ought to be baked into the figures. We don’t know exactly who’s going to resign, or when, but we do know that passions on Brexit run high and that it will be impossible for the government to satisfy all its ministers in whatever is agreed. Hence, some will walk. This is just the process playing itself out.

Unfortunately, what also hasn’t changed are the other irreconcilable aspects of Brexit. The EU and Ireland still demand an open border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland; the DUP demand no regulatory dealignment between NI and GB; Tory MPs demand the ability to diverge from the EU; the EU insists that its external Customs Union border must be consistent.

The problem here is that the four demands cannot all be met simultaneously but that for a deal to be able to be signed and ratified, the government needs the agreement of all those parties demanding them. Hence, unless something fundamental changes, it’s almost impossible to see how a deal can be done.

Hence the Gordian Knot attempts to solve the problem by changing the rules (or ignoring them); the most popular of which is the second referendum. Quite how this is supposed to come about when the government is understandably adamantly opposed to the idea isn’t clear. Nor is it obvious how a second vote resolves the problem when it’s all-but certain that public opinion would polarize away from any unhappy compromise and toward the extremes of Remain or No Deal. A second vote offers nothing that parliament cannot do now except provide a little more justification for a U-turn should Remain win.

However, the clock has practically run out on the time needed for a new referendum and certainly will have done so by the December summit – and even that might not be when a deal is either done or declared undoable. Article 50 could be extended to enable the vote (if the EU agrees) but there’s a more practical deadline of late May, when the European elections take place: elections Britain would be entitled to take part in if still a member. But it’s still all hypothetical as long as the Tories are in power: no referendum bill will be introduced.

Which means that the can can’t be kicked any further down the road: March 29 really is the deadline, deal or not – and the changes are very much not.

As Jo Johnson pointed out in his resignation statement, a No Deal Brexit would not be a piece of cake. The British government would neither be bureaucratically or logistically ready. In all probability, neither would the countries with which Britain shares its closest transport links.

    It’s entirely possible that the country could see its worst disruption since the Winter of Discontent or the Three Day Week – hardly an appetizing prospect.

That assumes that Theresa May makes it that far. With incoming fire from the DUP and from both wings of her own party (though oddly, not from the Labour front bench), she may not – though the red lines and the parliamentary maths won’t be any different for any alternative Tory PM. They would of course be different for Corbyn but that’s not going to happen unless May seriously errs in her relationship with the DUP.

Ultimately, some form of deal or deals will be done. Practical politics will demand it as the logjam of interests is swept aside by the force of public opinion being confronted with the reality of what No Deal looks like. These might be micro-deals to keep individual sectors running, based on mutual recognition; it might be a comprehensive one based on something like those sections of the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework already agreed. Whichever, the talks look highly likely to go down to the wire and beyond.

David Herdson