Archive for the 'Theresa May' Category


If Damian Green goes that could put massive pressure on the PM

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

The political friendship between Theresa May and Damian Green goes back more than three decades to their time as students together in Oxford. He served in the Home Office with her and it was no surprise that Green was appointed a Cabinet minister in July 2016.

It was to him that she turned to after GE17 disappointment when her key aides. Timothy and Hill, had to quit. He was promoted to First Minister making him the effective PM deputy and the one who stands in for the PM at PMQs when she is away.

Green has played a key role in buttressing up May’s position since then and has looked increasingly confident and powerful but always totally loyal to his boss. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was a Remainer he’d have been seen as a good prospect to succeed her.

In normal times Green would have played a big role in dealing with the sleaze scandal that’s dominating politics at the moment but now he has been dragged into it himself in two articles in the Times this morning.

I still think that she’ll survive but this will be taking a huge toll on her personally. I have, however, written off my 70/1 bet on Green being next CON leader.

Mike Smithson


Congratulations to TMay for surviving beyond October 29th

Monday, October 30th, 2017

She’s doing better than IDS in 2003

Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of what I considered to be one of the best political betting days ever where the best place to find out what was happening was to look at the prices on the Betfair Exchange.

After taking over from William Hague two days after 9/11 Iain Duncan Smith struggled for more than 2 years to maintain the confidence of his party and that all finally snapped at the end of October 2003. His opponents in the Parliamentary Conservative Party gathered up enough letters for a confidence vote. These were presented them to the chairman of the 1922 committee who then called the ballot for the following day.

That IDS was going to lose that confidence vote and be replaced, without the having to face an opponent, by Michael Howard all became apparent during the afternoon of the vote on Betfair. Suddenly on the next CON leader market all the money started draining away from the favourite at the time, David Davis and before the confidence vote was announced Michael had become odds on favourite to become Tory leader.

Then of course, the Tories were in opposition and not in government as now and a leadership election to replace Mrs May would be about choosing a new prime minister.

Remember that less than a month ago all the talk was of such a move against Mrs May in the period after conference. We had the suggestion that the party chairman under Cameron, Gavin Shapps, was collecting letters but clearly not enough MPs have been prepared to act now.

In the meantime TMay has had some tricky Commons performances particularly at PMQs where Corbyn had become much more sure footed.

    But we’ve got to the end of October and the PM is still there with almost no talk of immediate confidence votes any more. She appears, and I write guardedly, safe for now.

The Tory party could be in danger of losing its reputation of being the most ruthless when it comes to failing leaders. Mrs May had a majority, called an election that wasn’t necessary, lost the majority and ended up having to agree the £1bn+ deal with the DUP.

She has been helped, of course, by the fact that there is no obvious favourite to replace her. Boris has become a diminished figure since the election and DDavis isn’t going to set the world on fire.

So Mrs May remains and that is something of an achievement. Congratulations.

Mike Smithson


When Mrs May announces her decision to stand down or is removed

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Announcing her departure at the Tory conference in October 2018 looks value at 12/1

I like this market from Paddy Power, a lot of the markets on Theresa May’s departure are when she formally stops being Prime Minister, this market is when she announces her intention to stand down (or loses a vote of confidence of the parliamentary party), not when she actually goes. For example if this market had existed for David Cameron, it would have paid out on June 24th 2016 when Dave announced his intention resign, not July 13th when he ceased to be Prime Minister.

I suspect 2018 will be dominated by Brexit and by the time of the 2018 Tory conference the shape of the Brexit deal, or lack therein, will be clear, despite the hopes and fears of many, the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union in March 2019 and I think shortly after that Mrs May will formally go.

Much like David Cameron’s assurance prior to the EU referendum that he wouldn’t resign as PM if Leave won, we know Theresa May’s assurance that she will fight be Tory leader at the next general election will be similarly honoured, it just won’t happen because of political gravity will kick in.

In normal circumstances a Prime Minister announcing their departure date would only hasten their departure as their political authority weakens, but since 10pm on June 8th Mrs May’s authority has already been non existent, so she has nothing to lose on that front.

In front of the Tory faithful on October 3rd 2018 makes for an ideal opportunity for Mrs May to announce her departure date, Paddy Power imply there is a sub 8% chance that she will, my instincts thinks it is a bit higher than that.



Just one in 20 CON voters on June 8th did so because of Theresa May

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

So much for the campaign basing it all on her

A unique feature of the Conservative campaign for the June election was that the branding was completely about Theresa May and you would have been hard pressed on things like the Tory battle bus to see the word Conservative.

Clearly this was based on the belief believe that the Prime Minister herself was the strongest feature of the Conservatives offer in the election that she had called to endorse her approach to Brexit. Early poling seemed to back this up.

Yet in the end it didn’t work out that way. As we got closer and closer to election day the more that voters saw of the Conservative leader the less she was a positive and her ratings slumped into negative territory in some polls.

Yesterday I posted about YouGov polling that took place in the days after the election which rather got over-shadowed in the political turmoil of the time. This asked why those who had vote LAB and CON had made their choice. Yesterday was about Labour this latest post in about the Tories.

Certainly Brexit, being anti Corbyn/LAB were strong motivators but just look where TMay stands – just 5% of CON voters said she was the main reason for their vote.

    Interestingly more CON voters said they voted against Corbyn than Labour voters said he was the main reason for their vote

My main concern about this polling is that it was being wise after the event and whether the election outcome itself influenced the responses.

Mike Smithson


Why Theresa May’s Maidenhead could be the next parliamentary by-election in a CON held seat

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Two days ago in my post on why there would not be a general election until 2022 I observed that there have been very few by elections in CON held seats in recent times. Tory MPs have been a lot healthier than LAB ones.

What CON by-elections defences there have been have been caused by other factors such as the weird resignation by the then shadow Home Secretary David Davis in 2008 so he could fight his own seat for reasons that have long since been forgotten.

In the current Parliament apart from possible actions by the courts which we cannot speculate upon my suggestion for the first by-election in a Tory seat would be Maidenhead.

This was retained by the Prime Minister with a whopping vote share of 64.8% on June 8th with LAB on 19.3% and the LDs on 11.1%.

Against the national trend which was an average vote increase of 5.8% by Tory candidates TMay’s vote went down by 1.1% but it still looks totally solid. It would be hard to see a by-election there as anything other than a CON hold with perhaps a reduced majority on a lower turnout.

    In spite of her survival since the conference TMay’s position remains precarious and wasn’t helped yesterday by another PMQs mauling at the hands of Corbyn.

If she is replaced as leader then like the former PMs of late who quit between general elections, Tony Blair and David Cameron, it is hard to see her wanting to continue as an MP.

In any case we are all aware of her diabetes and it is always possible that her departure could be prompted by her health rather than any political move.

Remember that morning last April when we were all standing by for an announcement from Downing Street of what turned out to be the general election call. The speculation for a time then, led by Sky’s Adam Boulton, was that she was going because of her health.

Whatever it is hard to see her sticking at Number 10 until the next election and there must be a high chance of a by-election.

Mike Smithson


After the weekend break welcome back to the coalition of chaos

Monday, October 16th, 2017

It shouldn’t be able to go on like this but it probably will

The cartoon just about sums it up. Time is running out under the Brexit extraction process and it is hard to say with any certainty who will be the senior members of government at Christmas.

TMay is now a diminished figure and in spite of the apparent turmoil within her party she simply does not have the authority to try to reshuffle her cabinet.

One side of the Tory party calls for the Chancellor to be sacked while others want Foreign Secretary out. The fault lines that were exposed during John Major’s 1992-1997 government are still there and seem wider than ever.

    Meanwhile Labour, which looked finished after losing the Copeland by-election earlier in the year, has now got its act together and can smell blood.

On top of this the Tories have put back the committee stage of what was called the Great Repeal Bill because of fears of rebellions, splits and defeats.

Even when it gets through the Commons the battles will be resumed in the Lords where the numbers situation is even worse for the Tories.

On the face of it it shouldn’t be able to go on like this but most likely it will.

Mike Smithson


BJohnson now clear betting favourite to succeed TMay

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Peston: “No longer absurd that Boris could be PM within weeks”

The former Mayor and current foreign secretary is now clear favourite to be the next CON leader but his odds are nothing like as strong as they were in the weekend after the general election.

One of the drivers of the increased sentiment in Boris has come from a Facebook post by ITV’s Robert Peston. This is what he wrote about the Brexit divisions in the cabinet.

“..Her (TMay’s) perhaps fatal weakness is that she lacks the authority to settle this argument, such that the rest of the EU would have a clear understanding of who actually represents the UK and what we want from Brexit.

In the words of a senior member of the cabinet, it is a scandal that there has never been a cabinet discussion about what kind of access we want to the EU’s market once we leave, what kind of regulatory and supervisory regime should then be in place to ensure a level playing field for EU and UK businesses, and -don’t gasp – how much we might actually pay to the EU as the so-called divorce bill.

In the absence of a settled government position on these most basic of our Brexit demands, it is little short of a miracle that the leaked draft of a possible EU council statement actually holds out the possibility of the EU itself beginning to mull the form of possible trade and transition deals with us.

To be clear, it has been her ordinance that there should be no cabinet discussion of all this. And if the prime minister lacks the power and authority to negotiate Brexit with her own ministers – who after all are supposed to be on the same side as her – what possible chance is there of her reaching any kind of entente with 27 EU governments?

What should trouble her profoundly is that even those who just a week ago were savaging Boris for his disloyalty, or who detest his Brexit dogmatism, now say little could be worse than the status quo – and that as he seems to own a torch and a stick, they’d rather have him.

To be clear, I am not saying Boris Johnson will be PM within weeks. But I am saying that I no longer regard that as an absurd notion.

Time will tell.

Mike Smithson


TMay refuses 3 times to say she’d vote for Brexit

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

If you have not had chance to watch Iain Dale’s interview tonight then it is worth looking at. The beleaguered PM doesn’t do many interviews as long as this one and Iain, a former CON PPC, did not give the PM a easy time.

The news part of the session which will be remembered was her refusal on three occasions to say how she’d vote if there was a new Brexit referendum. It will be interesting to watch how that goes down with the hard Brexiteers in the party and on whose votes she might have to rely on if there is a confidence motion.

The big question that will hang over her is whether there is going to be a confidence move. If one happens it will become quickly and be resolved quickly.

Mike Smithson