Betting on politics can be a strange process – after all, say what you like about the Premier League title race, but it’s not going to affect the price of a pint of milk any time soon – but if you know the right places to look, there can be some decent prices to be found. With Brexit back in the news (as though it ever went away), our Bet of the Day today looks at the shape of things in light of recent developments, and takes in questions of when, how and if it might happen. It’s worth keeping in mind that the entire process so far has moved slowly, and if you’re going to place a bet on Brexit, you may be waiting a moment for it to come through (or not).
Most of the sportsbooks available in the UK have some markets on Brexit among their political betting offers. These range between the relatively simple and the slightly playful – but if you have a nose for politics and are well-acquainted with the processes that will be involved in finally delivering a verdict on how Britain will take its next steps, you could certainly find some value in what’s available. After all, let’s face it, you’re not going to be short of sources for a bit of research into what might come next.
Delay or No Delay – Is There A Question?
If you were to clip together, right now, all of the occasions on which Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Britain will leave the European Union on the 29th of March, 2019, you’d end up with a video that could play uninterrupted until that purported exit date. However, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that come the morning of the 30th of March, UK citizens may not be waking up to a country that has made a clean break. It’s long been suspected that departure will be delayed by at least a couple of months, though May has been adamant it would not.
That message changed this week, when the Prime Minister announced that MPs would be given a chance to vote on two key issues – first, whether Parliament will give assent to a departure from the EU without a deal on a future relationship between the UK and Europe having been agreed. Secondly, if the answer on that vote is “No”, another will be held the following day asking if MPs give their consent for the PM to seek an extension to Article 50 – and therefore a delay in Brexit.
Odds have moved to 1/7 with Betfair now that the departure date will be delayed; however, you can get 4/1 on the delay not happening. Given that May insists everything can be finalised by the 29th, there might be profit in betting on sheer parliamentary bloody-mindedness. Not least because, as Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom highlighted, there is a non-negligible chance that a vote to extend could fail in Parliament. Additionally, the 27 EU countries have to give their consent for Article 50 to be extended – which is probable but far from guaranteed.
Theresa To Stay, Come What May?
A story which passed through the news wires last week, but picked up surprisingly little attention, focused on the apparent insistence by members of her Cabinet that the Prime Minister must stand down after the UK’s local elections in May of this year. The idea is that a more dynamic negotiator will be essential in moving to the next phase of the Brexit process , which includes working on a free trade deal with the EU. While the evidence of the last couple of years – in which she called a snap election, then stayed in office when it backfired hugely – indicates that May will be tricky to shift, it does throw light on an interesting betting market.
At Betway, there are odds of 7/4 on Theresa May to resign as Prime Minister before the UK has officially left the EU. If Article 50 is extended, and the governing Conservative party takes a battering in the local elections, it could well be that May departs the stage sooner rather than later. While we wouldn’t put the mortgage on this happening, there is a growing possibility that the UK could leave the EU under another Prime Minister – and, given that there is a renewed push for a second referendum on whether it leaves at all, 7/4 is tempting.
About That Second Referendum…
A lot has been said about the possibility that the question of Brexit will be put to the UK public again. Much of this has been said at increasingly loud volumes by very angry people, some of whom think it should be, and others who disagree. This week, it officially became the policy of the Opposition, led by Jeremy Corbyn, that unless consensus could be reached on a deal, the question should be put to the voters.
Among their many Brexit markets – which include sensible ones such as “Will Article 50 be extended?” and more… playful ones such as “What will the UK ration first in 2019*?”, Paddy Power have odds of 2/1 on a second referendum taking place this year. The odds against are 4/11. We would advise betting that there won’t be another referendum – the chance of such a measure gaining a majority of votes in the House of Commons is vanishingly small and, if that is to change, a much longer delay will need to happen for the wheels to be set in motion. It could even be that fresh elections would be called first – so even if there is to be a second EU referendum, don’t bet on it happening before 2020 has arrived.
*The favourite is fuel, at 4/1, while Prosecco is a rank outsider at odds of 125/1.
Bets of the Day
: No second referendum in 2019 (4/11, Paddy Power); May to resign before Brexit (Betway, 7/4); Article 50 not to be extended (4/1, Betfair)