STAR PREVIEW: Political Round Up

The football season is nearly underway, the weather is either boiling or tipping it down, and we’ve just had the beginning of an Ashes series. It is of course the British summer, and the silly season in politics.

MP’s are currently away from Westminster to work in their constituencies, but we are heading towards another Brexit Deadline and maybe another General Election. Let’s have a look at the markets, the scenarios, the prices and the parties.

Brexit Specials

Brexit Or General Election To Happen First

Brexit: 5/6
General Election: 5/6

Mightily tight in the betting market, with 5/6 either options.

First things first, let’s look at the clock. Assuming that we do so, there are 88 days until we leave the European Union at the time of writing. The situation is relatively simple – if there’s no extension, we leave on that date, without or without a Withdrawal Agreement.

A General Election – and we’ll talk more about the betting chances of that this year later – needs a little more to happen. MPs did not call a confidence vote before Westminster went on its summer break, so that now means September the 3rd, when Parliament next sits, is now the earliest opportunity to test the confidence of the Government. Should a no confidence vote be successful, there’s 14 days for the Government to try to persuade MPs to change their minds, or for other parties to maybe form the much vaunted National Government Of Unity that you keep hearing about. If not, an election is triggered, to be held as soon as possible, and Parliament is dissolved 25 working days before the poll.

That’s 25 working days and two weeks, well over a month, that you need to fit in somewhere and all this from September too.

The theory has been mentioned that Johnson could try and run a grievance campaign in a General Election, assuming that he is blocked from taking the UK without a deal, but there is a dangerous problem for him in this scenario – The Brexit Party, and their many candidates. The value might be gone from the market but one would lean towards Brexit happening first.

Article 50 to be revoked

Revoke and UK remain an EU full member: 5/2
NOT Revoke and Leave The EU: 2/7

This is the nuclear option on the table, but it comes with several caveats. Firstly, you need a change in Government. Secondly, you probably need a change in the likely makeup of the main opposition party, if on the record statements are to be believed. Thirdly, you’d probably need a coalition government to do this, and fourthly, the option of a Second Referendum is still on the table. Avoid.

UK to officially leave EU before 1st Nov 2019

UK officially NOT to leave the EU before 1st Nov 2019: 4/6
UK officially leave the EU before 1st Nov 2019: 11/10

A market based around the ‘do or die’ target – thank you kindly ex TALKRadio Political Editor Ross Kempsell for that one – of leaving on the 31st October. Given that we now have a Government led by people who have explicitly endorsed leaving without a deal, and who have now put major funding into the No Deal preparation, the 11/10 would be favoured.

A ‘No Deal’ Brexit to happen in 2019

UK to leave EU with a ‘No Deal Brexit’ in place in 2019: 11/8
UK Not to leave EU with a ‘No Deal Brexit’ in place in 2019: 8/15

However, there is more value here, with the 11/8 on a No Deal market taking place this year. Yes, we have had one extension already, but that was with the hope of finding a solution down the road that Parliament could agree too. Now, 88 days before the exit date, the Government has no intention of any deal with the backstop involved (so no intention of any deal), the ever constant threat of The Brexit Party looming behind them, and billions committed to No Deal prep, we’re closer than ever before and the makeup of not only the cabinet but several SpAd’s readying the Government too.

A Meaningful Vote to be passed in 2019 by the House Of Commons

Yes: 11/4
No: 1/4

Won’t happen.

2nd Government Confidence Vote in 2019

Yes: 1/6
No: 7/2

It will happen, but 1/6 is very short.

Another EU Referendum & Result (inc in 2019)

No.

Next General Election

Most Seats
Conservatives: 4/6
Labour: 9/4
Liberal Democrats: 10/1
The Brexit Party; 14/1
Green Party: 500/1
Independent Group For Change: 500/1
UKIP: 500/1

Overall Majority
No Overall Majority: 8/11
Conservative Majority: 7/4
Labour Majority: 8/1
Liberal Democrat Majority: 40/1
The Brexit Party Majority: 50/1
Green Party Majority: 1000/1

State Of The Parties:

Two party politics is dead! Long live four party politics. An average taken from poll aggregators Britain Elects has the Conservatives and Labour locked at 25%, and the Liberal Democrats at 19% along with The Brexit Party.

Some would be surprised to see that and then the market prices, but the Tories probably have the easier task in taking votes back from The Brexit Party than Labour do from the Liberal Democrats. The favoritism of the Conservatives probably does assume that there will be a No Deal Brexit that would deliver at least half of that 19% back to their natural home; YouGov tells us that 25% of 2017 Tory voters now back The Brexit Party, presumably enough to put them into a clear lead – if they can be lured back.

And the Conservatives are trying everything possible. Johnson, perhaps the most famous face of Leave, has built a cabinet which most Leavers would have dreamt of if they were in Number 10. By giving the ‘great offices of state’ held by Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid. Also, in the reshuffle Stephen Barclay remained as Brexit secretary, Liz Truss became international trade secretary and Andrea Leadsom business secretary while Theresa Villiers returned to government as environment secretary – three prominent free market endorsing Leavers who were very popular with the grassroots movement and who have become more recognizable to them since.

Roaming around Downing Street, meanwhile, is Dominic Cummings, the man that many credit with the success that Vote Leave had in voter targeting and strategy in 2016 – presumably to pull strategic strings before and during an election.

Labour outperformed the odds in 2017, but are now under pressure in the polls thanks to a number of forces. Brexit has been particularly hard on the party, who mostly have the support of Remainers but a sizeable Leave core. Polarization on both sides of the Brexit debate – with the The Brexit Party on one side, and the Lib Dems on the other – has squeezed a lot of their vote since then.

This has also happened to the Conservatives, but on paper it is easier for them to grab back Brexit Party votes than it is for Labour to build an electoral coalition. The big benefit for the party, however, is what the polling suggests they must fear; An election. Ofcom coverage guidelines allow the Labour argument much more space in a general election, and that is where their likely manifesto policies – which poll strongly.

According to YouGov, nine signature Labour policies have a majority of support in the UK, and it’s worth remembering that these arguments, when given the space, were popular in the 2017 – gaining 20 points in the polls from the beginning of the campaign, and eventually ending up with the largest increase in the share of the vote by a Labour leader since Clement Attlee in 1945. It’s also worth noting that many people expected the 2017 election to be all about Brexit, but the defining issues were actually much more varied – including the famous Social Care policy that many think sunk the Tories.

The timing of the election is likely to be very important too – if No Deal Brexit goes ahead and most of the worst case scenarios do come true, there could be a heavy backlash against the Conservatives.

The policy support hasn’t changed – that poll cited above was in January of this year – but Jeremy Corbyn, by any measure, is less popular and perceived to be less competent than he was; As an example, An Ipsos MORI survey found 62 per cent of Britons now believe Labour should replace him before the country next goes to the polls compared with 55 per cent a year ago.

The Liberal Democrats have profited a lot from being able to take a clear and vigorous stance on Brexit – that of being unashamedly remain. This positon has brought clear results – in the European election they gained 15 MEP’s and 13% of the vote, and in the Local Elections, they were biggest winners on the night, gaining 700 councillors across the country and several councils, largely at the expense of the Tories.

According to Alan Wagner and Guy Russo of the UK in a Changing EU, the current poll of polls suggests there has been a 12.5 per cent swing away from the Conservatives towards the Lib Dems since 2017, and a 13 per cent swing to the Lib Dems from Labour. To add to this, the election of Jo Swinson, an adept performer on the stump with more than reasonable approval ratings.

Swinson is likely to be superior to Vince Cable and Tim Farron on the stump whenever an election comes and whilst there will be some focus on domestic policy, the Remain core should hold up to a reasonable extent in what’s a polarized atmosphere.

The biggest issue for the Lib Dems will be trust. Memories of the coalition are still fresh in the minds of many and explaining it – regardless of what you think of that government – is a tough task for them and if it’s not the student fees people will be angry about then austerity will be the main attack line.

Swinson’s very early refusal of a second Scottish Independence referendum has made some opponents early whilst their refusal to work with Labour, (understandable politically as it was), may lead some voters back to what they see as the best chance of a non Tory Government.

However, it is disaffected Tory Remainers who the Lib Dems are picking up most rapidly, and they should be on the scenes for a long while yet, even if first past the post is sure to prevent them of a majority.

The Brexit Party swept the board at the European elections, but that may well have been their high point. The election of Boris Johnson as Tory Party leader and the changeup of the Cabinet presents them with a real challenge to keep their base from returning to the Conservatives too, and depending on when this election is held, their signature issue might well be delivered.

There have been more policy proposals floated by party figures since the launch, but any potential manifesto – assuming one would be written – may well be a match of the Conservatives’ offering and there’s the issue of campaigning.

The Brexit Party’s campaigning has been energetic, especially on social media, but they’ve struggled with focusing their resources on the ground as effectively as existing parties. This was the case in Peterborough, when they were as short as 1/10 to win that seat with this website but were beaten by Labour’s on the ground campaign, and they will need to learn the ropes quickly if they are to capitalize, whether Brexit has occurred or not.

Year of Next General Election

2019: 4/7
2020:9/4
2021: 20/1
2022 or later: 15/2

The 4/7 on this year looks to be the right price. After the Liberal Democrats won the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, the new prime minister’s working majority is now technically just one, although some experts – such as the Institute for Government’s Aaron Cheung & Lee Wretten, who estimated the majority to be just three – have it differently.

However, it is clear that Johnson and his Government are gearing up for an election, and even if the Government survives a Confidence vote, it is unlikely that, Brexit or not, Johnson will tolerate having what is essentially a non-functioning Government.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK No Overall Majority 11 pts in ‘Overall Majority Market at Next General Election at 8/11 with starsports.bet
BACK 2019 in Year Of Next General Election 10 pts at 4/7 with starsports.bet


PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 204.82 points
(excluding Ryan Sidebottom Ashes bet (c/f double and Ashes preview outright), Horseshoe Northern Trust