Latest YouGov tracker finds the Brexit “wrong” lead over “right” in double figures at record level

December 5th, 2018

With the political process of the UK leaving the EU completely dominating the headlines the latest YouGov brexit tracker has unwelcome news for those who want to follow the referendum result.

The figures are in the chart above. 49% believe that in hindsight it was wrong to vote to leave the EU with 38% saying it was right.

The question has been asked several times a month by YouGov in exactly the same form since the referendum in 2016 and this, by far, is the biggest lead lead for “wrong” and it’s the first time that those believing that Brexit was right is below 40%.

This trend chart from the Times has just been published.

This will give heart to those MPs at Westminster who are pressing for a second referendum.

Mike Smithson


On a huge political day the main Brexit linked betting changes

December 4th, 2018

Punters now think..2019 GE now MORE likely

UK LESS likely to leave EU on March 29th

A second Brexit referendum MORE likely

Charts once again based on latest trades on the Betfair exchange shown as a percentage probability and derived from Betdat.io

Mike Smithson


Geoffrey Cox for next CON leader? He’s head and shoulders above the rest

December 4th, 2018

At 50/1 a good bet?

These are quite extraordinary times and one of the “stars” to have emerged has been the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox – someone who first came to many people’s attention when he introduced TMay at October’s CON conference.

I thought he did brilliantly yesterday handling what was a very difficult issue for the government and no doubt will be seeing more of him later.

    He’s not someone who has been mentioned much as a prospective CON leader but if he has ambitions in that direction he has done himself a power of good over Brexit. As I write the best price on him to succeed Mrs. May is 50/1 which looks a goodish longshot.

If Theresa May manages to get through this difficult period with the deal agreed, a big if, and the UK does leave the EU in March as planned then one of the major factors will have been the role of Mr Cox.

This morning, of course, the whole EU exit business took a turn with the recommendation to the ECJ that the UK could unilaterally revoke the article 50 declaration that was made in March 2017.

One of the effects of this, I suggest, is that it is going to help the whips as they try to get leavers to back the Prime Minister in the big vote next week. Assuming the advice the European court is getting is accepted then that places the whole subject in a very different context and the threat of Brexit not happening will be greater.

Wavering Tory MPs will be told in no uncertain terms that TMay’s deal is the best way of guaranteeing Brexit.

Let’s now see what the rest of the day brings.

Mike Smithson


The chances of the UK leaving the EU on March 29th are surely greater than 54%

December 4th, 2018


With so many big things happening in UK politics as the March 29 EU exit deadline gets nearer one of they key betting markers is surely “Will the UK leave the EU as planned on March 29th next year?”. The chart above shows the moves on Betfair over the past month.

It strikes me that the current betting price that it will happen of 54% is an understatement giving the machinations that would have to happen in order for the exit not to take place by that date. That would make this a value bet.

Even if there was the political will there really is no time left for a second referendum before that date and it is hard to see Theresa May’s government supporting the idea. Also the Electoral Commission has declared that it needs 5 or 6 months notice for such a major vote to take place and that takes us to a late spring at the earliest.

Even if that was moving forward there would still be a requirement for the EU27 to agree to the extension. This might change because of a court case that is currently being pursued but it is far from certain. Once the clock was started when Mrs May invoked Article 50 in March 2017 then it became much harder for any change of mind.

With the benefit of hindsight the Article 50 invocation should really have been delayed until such time as there was political agreement on what sort of relationship with the EU that the UK was looking for. We haven’t reached that yet.

I still think that one of the most remarkable ill-thought out things that Jeremy Corbyn has stated on this was his declaration on the day after the referendum in 2016 that Article 50 should be invoked immediately. If that had been the case we would have been out for nearly 6 months by now.

UPDATE – UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50

Mike Smithson


As if things weren’t complicated enough

December 3rd, 2018


Defying the odds Theresa ploughs on

December 3rd, 2018

The three weeks that could make or break the PM

It has been observed many times before that the the prime minister, Mrs May, is a remarkably resilient person able to go forward when all seems doomed. Who would have thought in the aftermath of the 2017 General Election debacle that eighteen months on she would still be in Number 10 and be on the brink of securing agreement on the deal that takes Britain out of the EU?

Let us not forget that one of the prime authors of the CON GE2017 mess was the then Brexit Secretary David Davis. He was the one who was strongly arguing the case for calling an early election and yet in reputational terms he apparently got off scot-free.

Mrs May has seen that there are two objectives. Firstly to honour the result of the 2016 referendum and secondly to do so causing as little damage to the economy as possible.

Her challenge is that some on her own side are so extreme in their view of the EU that just about nothing is ever going to satisfy them in the terms of extraction from the European Union. They are probably less powerful than many parts of the media are ready to acknowledge. Remember it was only two and a bit weeks ago that Moggsy launched what appeared to be a coup to oust the PM and found he didn’t have the numbers. He’s been a diminished figure since.

For individual MPs a lot depends very on what their constituents are telling them and there are quite a lot of indications that the general public really wants to get this over with and won’t be too unhappy if the deal goes through.

Her biggest ace is the prospect of no deal and all the associated difficulties for a whole range of industries and millions of people. The realisation that that this should not be allowed to happen is a very powerful argument.

  • The Theresa May portrait above is by my daughter-in-law, Lucille Smithson, a figurative realist British painter based in Los Angeles.
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    Mike Smithson


    If TMay has to go quickly then, surely, Javid or Hunt should be favourites for “Emergency PM”

    December 3rd, 2018

    Both might be worth a punt for next PM

    I’ve long taken the view that Theresa May is not going to resign voluntarily before her mission of handling brexit and taking the UK out of the EU has been accomplished. However the big Commons vote goes next week she’ll want to cling on and see it through.

    But there must always be a chance that she would quit or even more likely face a vote of no confidence amongst her MPs if the outcome is really bad for her.

    One of the things that, surprisingly, there has been very little discussion about is who would be emergency PM should TMay resign suddenly and there is no time for a proper leadership election. The cabinet then would be likely to choose a temporary PM while a leadership ballot went forward.

    Assuming that this happened before the termination of the article 50 process on March 29th then the new prime minister would have to take over at a very difficult and challenging time in order to handle the whole issue of the UK’s extraction from the EU.

    This is a big task and not one you could see current CON leadership favourite Boris doing. One thing he’s never been is a details man. There’s Dominic Raab who has only been in the cabinet a few months and really doesn’t yet look the part.

      Looking around I very much agree with Ian Martin’s tweet above that there are only two big beasts there ready to fit the bill – the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt and the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid. They would also be in a position to determine TMay’s future.

    Quite what the mechanics of the change would be is clearly open to speculation but a lot could be in TMay’s hands. Part of her constitutional duty on handing in her resignation as PM is to advise the Queen on who should be invited to lead the government.

    My guess is that she would prefer Hunt who like her is one of the three remaining Cabinet ministers who have served since continuously since GE2010. She wouldn’t however want to go against the will of the cabinet.

    In the betting the best market to go for is next PM rather than next CON leader. The odds are slightly longer. I’ve just had small wagers at 11 and 12 on Betfair on Javid and Hunt respectively. Even if there is no immediate vacancy they are both strongly placed for when she does go.

    Mike Smithson


    Local By-Election Review : November 2018

    December 2nd, 2018

    The nights may be starting to draw in and people’s minds are starting to turn to the thoughts of Christmas presents, but for the electors in the 22 council wards where there were local by-elections in November, the main discussion point was who to vote for in those local by-elections.


    And for the first time since July, the UKIP decline seemed to benefit everyone with Con, Lab and Lib Dem all advancing and as a result of that the swing from Con to Lab (which has been around 2% – 3% in recent months) has been reversed to record a small swing to Con


    However since the general election, there has been no real change in the general trend with the Conservatives barely moving and both Labour and the Liberal Democrats benefitting from the UKIP collapse.


    And part of the reason for this surge in the Lib Dems is thanks to the fact that they, by far and away, have seen the greatest increase in the number of candidates standing suggesting that the collapse in both morale and support that they suffered post the 2010 general election (as demonstrated in the 2015 general election) may be starting to recover.

    And as a result, the Liberal Democrats have a forecast result that would put many a smile back on the faces of several people I know who have wondered if the Liberal Democrats would ever reach their long term average of the low 20’s, but that should be tempered by the fact that even in the best polls for the Lib Dems, they seem unable except on rare occasions to break into double figures.

    Harry Hayfield