Archive for the 'Theresa May' Category


As the two leaders prepare for lunch Betfair punters give Trump about 40% chance of re-election TMay a 62% chance of surviving 2018

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Data and charts from

Mike Smithson


Across the UK political divide voters regard Theresa May as a much better leader than Donald Trump

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Comparing him with the PM

There’s little enthusiasm someone like Trump as British PM

To coincide with the Trump visit the latest ICM/Guardian poll has a series of findings examining the attitudes of British voters to the current incumbent at the White House. The responses to two of the questions are featured above with breakdown on party support.

The top one, comparing Trump with TMay, is interesting in that generally backers of parties other than the Tories are reluctant to favour the PM. Not so when Trump is the one being compared. Across the divide faced with a choice TMay gets overwhelming support.

To me the Tory split is particularly interesting especially in view of the huge divide that there is within the Tory party on the approach to Brexit.

The second one seeks to get reaction to having someone like Trump as the occupant of Number 10. Again the views are very clear.

Mike Smithson


Punters still make a 2018 exit for TMay the favourite but the price edges down a notch

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

For the first time in several months British political betting markets have become the most actively traded on the Betfair Exchange politics section. The busiest is the market featured above on which year Theresa May will eventually step down.

As can be seen it moved sharply upwards early yesterday morning when news of the David Davis resignation filtered out and since then it’s sort of holding stable though still about four percentage points down on where it was.

So far we haven’t had what would be the trigger to her departure. This is a demand from 48 conservative MPs for a confidence motion. Under the party’s rules that have been operating since William Hague’s time the way to oust a leader is to have majority of CON MPs supporting a no confidence motion

In that situation the incumbent has to step down and cannot put him or herself forward in the ensuing leadership contest. This is very different from what happened when Mrs Thatcher was ousted in 1990.

The second busiest market is on her successor where there has been little movement. Sajid Javid remains favourite with Rees-Mogg in second place. The only real move has been on Dominic Raab the new BrexSec who is now rated as having about a 6% chance.

Mike Smithson


David Davis quits possibly making a challenge to TMay more likely

Monday, July 9th, 2018

He was the 4/1 favourite for next exit

The big UK political news overnight is that the BrexSec and former favourite to succeed TMay, David Davis, has resigned as a minister following his disagreement with the PM’s approach to Brexit. Another of his ministers, Steve Baker, has gone with him.

This plunges the party into its biggest crisis since Mrs. May failed to hang onto to the Tory majority in June last year.

The move happened just before midnight and is not really a surprise. The Times reports:-

“..Friends said that Mr Davis had been building towards the resignation for weeks, fed up at being ignored by the prime minister and sidelined in favour of Olly Robbins, her all-powerful Europe adviser. Mr Davis was said to have held only four hours of direct talks with Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator, this year

A cabinet minister told The Times that Mr Davis had made a “grumpy” contribution during the cabinet meeting at Chequers on Friday, urging No 10 not to give away so many concessions. He was publicly challenged by other cabinet ministers and showed little sign of expecting to get his way. One source said that “he sounded fed up” on Saturday morning

Davis had been 4/1 favourite with Ladbrokes to be the next cabinet exit and those who backed him should receive their winnings during the day.

The question then is what next for Mrs. May’s government? She’s meeting the backbench 1922 Committee this evening?

I wonder whether we could see a confidence vote backed by TMay’s supporters? Such a move would clear the air provided she secured the backing of the parliamentary party in a secret ballot. She would then be immune to a further challenge for a year.

Mike Smithson


As the Chequers meeting goes on Betfair punters make it a 29% chance that TMay won’t survive the year

Friday, July 6th, 2018

By all reports her Brexit ambivalence is over

Mike Smithson


On this big day let’s remember Ken Clarke’s assessment of TMay just before she won the leadership

Friday, July 6th, 2018

The “bloody difficult woman” is tough for all sides to deal with

One of the great nuggets that came out of the post Brexit referendum CON leadership contest was the above unguarded conversation between Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind captured by Sky News when they thought the cameras were off them.

Clarke’s descriptions of some of the leading figures who will be battling it out at Chequers today appear to be spot on particularly his observations on the woman who was to become Prime Minister and is now seeking to get some form of agreement on the stance to take on the Brexit talks.

    The point, of course, is that once Theresa May has taken a view she sticks to it tenaciously and becomes very difficult to shift.

Those who do not agree with what is being proposed are going to find it very difficult dealing with the Prime Minister and, of course, they know it. Also holding the gathering at Chequers, her home turf, and the insistence that the meeting should go on until agreement is reached will help her.

My reading is that she attaches less importance to the actual form of Brexit than that the UK should leave the EU on March 29th next year as planned. So much can be pushed into the transition period to be resolved later. The latest Betfair market on this happening by that date has it at a 58% probability.

The task of the hardliners is being made more challenging by the spate of big decisions coming out of the big corporations in anticipation of the UK leaving the EU. The more bleak this looks the tougher it becomes to argue for a hard Brexit. There’s little doubt that Johnson’s widely reported “fuck business” comment has undermined his position.

Maybe historians will look back at today and deem it to be Theresa’s finest hour.

Mike Smithson


Confessions of a door to door fireplace salesman

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

The former fireplace salesman becomes another Tory making plans to oust Mrs May.

Today’s Mail on Sunday reports that

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has threatened to sweep Theresa May from power in a bitter Cabinet row over military cuts.

Furious Mr Williamson warned the Prime Minister that if she did not commit an extra £20 billion to the Ministry of Defence then Tory MPs would vote down the next Budget – effectively passing a motion of no confidence in her.

‘I made her – and I can break her,’ Mr Williamson is said to have boasted to service chiefs. 

The furore, described by one Williamson ally as a ‘dogfight at the heart of Government’, erupted after Mrs May announced a £20 billion-a-year boost to NHS spending last week. 

Chancellor Philip Hammond then declared there was no money left for similar boosts to defence, housing or schools spending.

When Mr Williamson said he needed his own £20 billion – a minimum of £2 billion a year extra for the next decade – to avoid damaging defence cuts, Mrs May questioned whether the UK had to be a ‘tier one’ military power.

Mr Williamson hit back that after Brexit it would be even more important for the UK to ‘sit at the top table’ internationally.

Last night a formidable array of political and military figures were lining up behind Mr Williamson in his power struggle with No 10.

They were led by the chairman of the powerful Commons defence committee, who warned that Mrs May could be ‘at political risk’ if she did not ‘do the right thing’ by increasing defence spending.

And the former head of the British Army, General the Lord Dannatt, told The Mail on Sunday that he feared Mr Williamson could be forced to resign over the issue.

This newspaper understands that in a recent meeting, Mr Williamson reassured senior members of the Armed Forces that he was fighting for more funds…

…Up to 20 Tory MPs are threatening to rebel if the Treasury and No 10 cannot find more money for defence. A powerful delegation formed of Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, along with chairmen of the defence and foreign affairs committees, are planning to meet Mrs May in the coming weeks to urge her to give a generous settlement to the MoD.

One of the few things that seems to unite the current Tory party is the contempt in which Gavin Williamson is held in by pretty much everyone. One Tory said in response to this story “Williamson’s intemperate and frankly bizarre media posturing shows just how unsuited he is for any high office whatsoever. He’s over-promoted and thinks stamping his foot stops him from being found out. It doesn’t.”

So ordinarily I’d expect Mrs May to see off a rebellion from Gavin Williamson, where Mrs May will struggle is that a not inconsiderable number of Tories will find it unpalatable if the UK ceases to be a Tier One Nation on defence.

The Sunday Times says it is entirely possible within the next decade that UK moves from being Europe’s top military power to being the third most important military power after Germany and France as cuts are enacted to deliver the NHS Brexit ‘dividend’. Whilst we cut the Germans and French plan to increase defence spending.

After the Thatcher/Major defence cuts* and the disgraced Liam Fox’s botched Strategic Defence Review you’d have thought Tories would be ok with further defence cuts but this time it might be very different. Indeed a decent opposition could supplant the Tories as the party of defence, but Jeremy Corbyn, with his rich backstory, won’t be able to do that.

For those Tories with leadership ambitions making a stand on defence cuts will play well with Tory members. Mrs May needs as many allies as possible she seems keen to keep on alienating as many people as possible, this is not a viable long term strategy for her, losing her campaign manager will not be a good look.


*The 1990s defence cuts following the end of the Cold War were described as a ‘Peace Dividend’, the government offering dividends does not have an auspicious history.


Losing today’s Brexit vote could prove fatal for Mrs. May’s premiership

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Can the rebels be curtailed yet again?

After the Brexit bill defeat for the government on the in the Lords on Monday the issue is now back in the commons and there’ll be a big vote on whether to accept what the Lord’s decided.

    The stakes are very high indeed because if the measure goes through it will have a huge impact on the way that ongoing negotiations on the deal take place. Essentially if it passes Mrs Mays hands will be very tied and it will also be symbolic that she is losing control.

After the big improvement in her position following the Russian attack in Salisbury in March things have got much more difficult for the Prime Minister as the Brexit bill has gone through Parliament. The key issue is who makes the final decision and that is something that Mrs May throughout has wanted to keep to herself.

A loss in today’s vote might be just what triggers enough MPs to send letters to the chairman of the 1922 committee seeking a confidence vote and it is far from certain that she would survive it. A problem is that she is alienating both remainers and leavers within the parliamentary party. Also the affairs from her tenure at the home office that have come into the public domain have not helped her. She appears on some issues to beat tin-eared and out of tune.

This Tweet is from Anthony Goodman of ConservativeHome.

I’m not convinced of the “it will lead to a new general election” argument. A new leader, Javid/Hunt/Gove perhaps, could well carry on without going to the country.

I should add that I’m not, as yet, betting on this.

Mike Smithson