Archive for March, 2019


Very shortly the credibility of so many Tory leavers could be in tatters and that has betting implications

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Like David Herdson I fear that No Deal is imminent and likely, especially with 170 Tory MPs in favour of it, so what are the implications of No Deal?

Just imagine if Tony Blair had resigned as Labour leader (and Prime Minister) in mid 2009 and not  in mid 2007 Gordon Brown would almost certainly not have succeeded Blair as he did (unopposed) in 2007.

As the great financial crisis took hold all those boasts such as about abolishing boom & bust or saying the UK was best place to deal with global shocks would have torpedoed Brown’s chances as his credibility would have been in tatters.

Now fast forward a decade and you can recall the moments when the Brexiteers promised us Brexit would be easy. There’s a special section dedicated to the times David Davis said Brexit would be simple.  

I won’t embarrass the disgraced national security risk Liam Fox by linking to his plethora of comments on the ease of Brexit.

If we have No Deal all those comments will come back and haunt them, the one it will come to haunt the most is probably Michael Gove, he said back in April 2016  ‘The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want.’ and his ‘I think the people in this country have had enough of experts, with organisations from acronyms, saying……that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.’ As per the video in the tweet atop this thread he might as well have said ‘We’re tired of exports.’ 

The irony of those who said No Deal was Project Fear now assuring No Deal is nothing to be feared will be lost with the voters.

Politicians getting things wrong is not a new phenomenon in our country but eventually the electorate punishes them for the most egregious wrongs. No Deal Brexit will be one of those situations. Success is performance minus anticipation. Having promised sunlit uplands then delivering No Deal the voters will want to punish for this bait and switch.

You get the feeling Leave would have lost if ‘It’s a grim but inescapable fact that in the event of a no-deal Brexit tariffs on beef and sheep meat would be above 40%’ was on the side of a bus. I suspect the Liberal Democrats would have won fewer seats in 2010 had they informed the electorate they were planning on trebling tuition fees.

If No Deal sees the destruction of the British euroscepticism for a generation then Brexit might well be a price worth paying, for the Tory Party the only people to have won majorities in the last forty years have been One Nation/pro-EU leaders, and yes Margaret Thatcher governed and campaigned as a very pro European politician. As a Thatcherite and staunch believer in free trade it pains me that we’re leaving one of Margaret Thatcher’s finest creations and policy achievements, the single market.

Like osmosis anyone associated with Leave will become tainted. The removal of so many Leaver Tories from the next few Tory leadership elections can only be a good thing history suggests.

Perhaps I’m being pessimistic, after all No Deal can be manageable if the government is competent, especially the Transport Secretary who has to ensure everything keeps on running smoothly. Chris Grayling’s unparalleled competence will make No Deal a positive outcome.

The other side effect of this will be rejoining the EU, even replete with membership of the Euro and Schengen, will have the advantage as those opposed to rejoining will probably include people who backed Leave and thus will struggle to have any credibility with the voters.

If No Deal Brexit is bad as I fear it is most Leave voters will view voting Leave like sex with an ex, fun for a few minutes at the start but then you’re filled with immense regrets thereafter and you wonder what were you thinking when you did the shameful deed, were you even thinking?


PS – I don’t expect the problems of No Deal to manifest straight away. There will  be a few small problems across many sectors that will increase the buggeration factor across the country. But as these problems become long term coupled with other Brexit related problems a tipping point will be reached from which I expect the Brexiteers (and probably the Tory party) will struggle to recover for a political generation.

The winter of discontent kept Labour out of power for 18 years, Black Wednesday kept the Tories out of power for 13 years, sustained No Deal as described by Gove in the video above will have a similar impact.


This is not an early April Fools’ Day story. Iain Duncan Smith looking to succeed Theresa May. I REPEAT THIS IS NOT AN EARLY APRIL FOOLS’ DAY STORY

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Why I’m not betting on the quiet man succeeding Mrs May.

When I first saw the tweet above my reaction was a mixture of laughter and language not fit to be published on a family friendly website like politicalbetting. But once I read the story I’m quite prepared to bet a lot of money on IDS not succeeding Theresa May. The Sunday Mirror say

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith may join a field of 19 Tories in the contest to succeed Theresa May .

The former Welfare Secretary who quit David Cameron’s Cabinet over disability cuts has told friends he’s thinking of standing.

Mr Duncan Smith, 64, had a disastrous two years as Conservative leader between 2001-03 where he billed himself as a quiet man not to be underestimated.

That prompted Labour MPs to raise their fingers to their lips each time IDS rose to speak and say “shush” in unison.

He lost a confidence vote and Michael Howard succeeded him.

Frontrunners to succeed May last night were unity candidate, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt,and Brexiteer Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

Former International Development Secretary Priti Patel, her successor Penny Mordaunt, Treasury Secretary Liz Truss and DWP Secretary Amber Rudd are also expected to run.

None are hopeful of winning, but once knocked out they would transfer their votes to their preferred candidate in return for jobs.

A senior Tory said: “That tactic is what’s behind IDS thinking of running.

“He has a loyal following amongst older Tory MPs and his votes would be useful to one of the frontrunners.”

So from the story it is quite clear that IDS isn’t expecting to become leader but exploiting the quasi-AV system the Tory party uses to elect their leader to get enough votes to be offered a cabinet job. So save your money on backing IDS to succeed Mrs May and use that money to lay him in succeeding Mrs May. All of this is enough to shake my faith in the wisdom and brilliance of AV.

It is a reflection of the desperate state the Tories find themselves in that IDS is contemplating standing as leader after his infamous stint as Tory leader where it seemed that only his family would vote for him in a general election.

With a majority of only 2,438 in Chingford and Woodford Green Mr Universal Credit should focus on holding his seat than having ambitions on becoming Prime Minister or joining the cabinet.


PS – Thanks to PBer WilliamGlenn for this reminder from the last time IDS was leader.


Observer reporting that CON MPs would block TMay’s plan to call snap election

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

From the Sunday papers that we have now got in the Observer reports that Tory MPs would block the prime minister if she sought to call a general election. This has been heavily hinted at since the Brexit votes were lost on Friday.

Before the Fixed Term Parliament Act the choice of choosing a general election date was totally in the hands of the prime minister. The act changed that and now a election can only be called if two-thirds of all MPs back one in a vote or there’s a vote of no confidence.

The paper reports:-

In a sign of the collapse in authority suffered by the prime minister, cabinet ministers are among those warning that there will be a serious campaign by Conservative MPs to vote against an election headed by May, a move she hinted at last week to break the Brexit deadlock.

The threat of an election immediately angered both pro-Brexit and pro-Remain MPs. May would need a two-thirds majority in the Commons to secure one, meaning a serious rebellion by Tories could block it. May would then be forced to secure an election by backing a no-confidence vote in her own government, which only requires a simple majority of MPs.

So this takes away one of TMay key weapons. Her only chance of getting her deal through is by putting it to MPs for a fourth time.

The other way she could try to call can an election is by contriving a vote of no confidence in her own government.

One poll tonight from Delta has LAB with a 5% lead.

Mike Smithson




Following the overnight allegations about WH2016 Dem favourite Biden it is hard to see him entering the race

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

Chart –

The ex-VP’s betting price plummets

The past few days have been a taxing one for 76 year old former Vice President Joe Biden as he ponders whether or not to throw his hat into the ring for the 2020 White House Democratic nomination.

First came a revival of criticism about his handling in the early 1990s of the Anita Hill hearing when he was chairman of the Senate judiciary committee. She had been brought in as a witness claiming harassment against a Supreme Court nominee and was given a rough time by senators on the all-male committee.  Biden had to apologise later for the way that he handled it.

This is now being followed by inappropriate and unasked kissing claims of a former Nevada state assembly woman who said Joe Biden made her feel “uneasy, gross, and confused” in 2014 at a campaign event where she says he kissed her on the back of her head.

This has prompted a series of YouTube and other social media pictures and videos of Biden which don’t look good in the current context.

He has apologised for both incidents but that’s perhaps not enough in the #MeToo culture. If he runs this would dog him throughout the campaign.

I’d always thought that Biden’s age would finally be the factor that would prevent him getting the nomination. Maybe it has. He comes from a previous generation when what appeared appropriate in bygone years is not appropriate now.

My guess is that Biden will take some time before announcing that he’s not going to put his hat into the ring. Back in 2015 there were months of speculation over whether he would fight Hillary Clinton and it was only in the October that he ruled out the possibility.

Mike Smithson


No Deal remains imminent and likely

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

Picture Judy Goldhill

The Withdrawal Agreement remains an unmet EU expectation

A failure to understand the other side’s point of view has been more than a running Brexit theme: it’s infected every aspect of Britain’s relationship with what’s now the EU throughout the last seven decades. Unsurprising then that miscalculations and misunderstandings continue to be made. That the same problem affects the domestic dialogue of the deaf that represents the Leave-Remain debate is hardly a cause for consolation.

The cost of the failures resulting from that lack of empathy on both sides is profound and on both sides (EU and UK) results from an excess of introspection and a lack of imagination. Nor are those failures necessarily over and some of the worst may yet be to come.

You might think that the European Council was clear in its statement that any A50 extension beyond April 12 was conditional on passing the Withdrawal Agreement (in which case it would be to May 22), or on presenting a clear alternative way forward which implicitly is both credible and deliverable but that the Withdrawal Agreement is a sine qua non whatever else might be proposed or agreed. Apparently not.

This is important because without the Commons’ approval of the WA there can be no agreement and, quite possibly, no further extension: Britain would leave the European Union without a deal a week on Friday.

Since the start of the year, I’ve thought that when it came down to it, enough Labour MPs would come to the government’s rescue to see it over the line precisely because of the risk of No Deal. No longer. Labour remains remarkably united in opposition to the deal (which is commonly referred to as May’s Deal but which is just as much – probably much more, in fact – the EU’s deal). Without the DUP and without 20-30 ultras on her own benches, May cannot get her deal ratified without Labour support, official or otherwise.

Here again the bedevilment of introspection and distraction strikes. Parliament will spend Monday and possibly Wednesday of next week debating options for Phase 2 of Britain’s withdrawal; the nature of the future relationship post-transition. However, without an agreed exit to Phase 1, this is not just pointless but delusional. It’s not so much rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic as heading back down to the Dining Room and arguing over whether to order venison or lamb.

When the EU talks of “the UK indicating a way forward”, it does not mean re-writing the Future Relationship (though it is open to that, within limits); it means that if the WA will remain unagreed beyond a further short extension, then either some extra-parliamentary political process that will lead to either the Agreement’s ratification, or an outright reversal of Brexit. Nothing else makes sense.

Some will argue that there is in fact an overlap; that the government could gain approval for its Withdrawal Agreement if it were to link it to either a permanent customs union post-transition, or a second referendum (details to be confirmed – don’t think these would be trivial), or both. In one sense that’s true but there’s a political problem here. While those two options did come closest to gaining the House’s support last week, they did so almost entirely off the back of the votes of opposition MPs. Tories were almost entirely opposed. Even if the government were to try to make the linkage, it’s difficult given May’s weak authority to believe that it could carry it through. The No Confidence vote in Dominic Grieve from his constituency association last night could well be indicative of a new and unwelcome front in the battle; one which makes the scope for compromise still harder.

Where does this leave us? Whatever the House decides next week – which may well be that it still doesn’t like any of the options unless artificially forced into supporting one through preferential voting, which isn’t really of much use – the fundamental question on the Withdrawal Agreement will remain unanswered. At some point reality will bite in an unpleasant way, possibly at the European Council meeting due on April 10. As Sabine Weyand noted yesterday, the Commission regards No Deal as a likely outcome, with what appears to be a large degree of acceptance. By contrast, to the extent that the Commons considers No Deal to be a risk, it’s a distant or conceptual one; this unreality is not helpful.

One scenario which I haven’t seen mentioned before but which I think we should now take seriously is the possibility of a post-Brexit ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. If Britain does sleepwalk into a No Deal Brexit, the awakening won’t be a happy one – not for Britain but also not for the EU and especially Ireland. And despite every attempt to kill it off, the Withdrawal Agreement would still be there, unloved but available (Bercow permitting, though he’d find it hard to stand in the way of the will of the House, should such a will exist). For want of anything better, it could probably still be agreed: Article 50 isn’t entirely unambiguous on the point but to me, the wording doesn’t suggest that the window for concluding the agreement closes when the departing state leaves. Indeed, it would be bizarre were such a bar to exist – and if one doesn’t exist, then why not use what’s already there?

Of course, implementing the Agreement would have huge domestic consequences. The DUP, who would accept Remain or No Deal but practically nothing in between, would probably withdraw support from the government, leading to a general election. The Conservatives would be split and led by a lame-duck leader. Labour would have finally, in some numbers anyway, backed the Tory Withdrawal Agreement, and would be split between Rejoiners (who might see the transition period as the last realistic option to get back in before divergence takes place), and those who accept the fact of Brexit and want to move on.

That, however, is several moves down the line. Before then, we have the small matter of seeing the wood out of the trees these next two weeks.

David Herdson


Where we are now summed up in two betting Tweets

Friday, March 29th, 2019

And on Betfair

Mike Smithson


More pressure is piled on the ERG to back the deal today

Friday, March 29th, 2019

And a “helpful” intervention from Osbo

I’m sitting on a number of bets on by March 30th in Betfair’s “When will House of Commons pass Brexit vote?” market which I’ve broadly written off and this is now rated as a 12% chance.

Clearly it is not going to go TMay’s way and her whole strategy of getting it carried by taking the MPs right to the precipice looks as though it will fail.

The question will be the margin and clearly that looks as though it will be better for her than her previous two attempts to get backing. Will she try again? Maybe she has shown remarkable tenacity over this though you do think she might have done better with a touch more flexibility.

So assuming it goes down then what Next week could see moves to produce a lighter Brexit or revive the second referendum option which did reasonably well in the indicative votes on Wednesday.

I long for the time when a whole day can go by on PB when Brexit is not mentioned. I think that’s a long time off.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast on the Tory leader runners and riders

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

On this week’s Polling Matters podcast Keiran Pedley is joined by David Herdson to review who might replace Theresa May as Tory leader when the time comes.

Listen to the podcast below

Follow this week’s guests