Boris Johnson is desperate for a snap general election but Labour look set to deny him yet again and the odds on a vote this year are on the drift, says Max Liu.
"An election in 2020 is [1.65] and Johnson believes it’s a case of the sooner the better for him. He’s convinced that he can win a majority if he goes to the country before Christmas."
A December general election has drifted to [3.1] on the Betfair Exchange after Labour insisted further legislation was needed to prevent Boris Johnson taking the UK out of the European Union without a deal.
Johnson, who in a new low for male Tory macho posturing this week told Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to "man-up" and back a snap poll, was intending to hold a vote in the House of Commons on Monday on whether to call a general election.
Overconfident Tory PM is nothing new
With Labour indicating they will oppose a snap election, the PM is reportedly tempted to cancel Monday's vote. A two-thirds majority is needed in the Commons to overturn the fixed term parliaments act, stipulating no election before May 2022, which effectively means Labour have a veto.
An election in 2020 is [1.65] and Johnson believes it's a case of the sooner the better for him. He's convinced that he can win a majority if he goes to the country before Christmas.
Labour, on the other hand, are split between those who want an election because they believe the party can win it, those who want an election because they don't believe they can win it (and would welcome the demise of Corbyn) and those who don't want an election because they don't believe they can win it.
Labour shouldn't be so down their chances and nor should you. Yes, the Tories are [1.26] to win most seats, and [2.16] to win a majority, and most polls give them a lead of around 10 points. But let's remember that Labour didn't want the last general election. Theresa May's decision to call a June election for 2017, when her party were as much as 18 points ahead in some polls, was widely expected to win her the type of majority with which she could have passed her withdrawal deal with votes to spare.
May pledged to "crush the saboteurs" of Brexit, and Labour wipeout was predicted by Corbyn-sceptics in the press, but instead she crippled her own premiership by losing her slim majority. Johnson believes the same thing won't happen to him but, for somebody who fancies himself an amateur classicist, he pays little heed to the Ancient Greek concept of hubris - a form of dangerous over-confidence which is often combined with arrogance. At the very least, Labour are too long at [6.0] to win the most seats.
Brussels still considering Brexit extension
The UK is [1.04] to miss Thursday's Brexit deadline (although some Tories are still denying that Britain will miss said deadline). It's been the habit of UK governments in recent years to insist that something isn't going to happen until the moment it happens. Examples include calling a general election in 2017, asking for an Article 50 extension in March this year and asking for an Article 50 extension in October. And of course, in July, Boris Johnson, along with every other candidate for Tory leader, ruled out holding a snap general election. You simply can't trust what the government says and need to make your own mind up about what you think will happen.
What do I think will happen? The EU will grant an extension to Article 50, although whether it is until 31 January or, as French president Emmanuel Macron prefers, a shorter period remains to be seen.
I also think that it's still not beyond the realms of possibility that Article 50 will be revoked and note that the price on that has shortened from around [6.0] to current odds of [4.2].
For that to happen, we'll probably need a second referendum. I mentioned last week that you can now bet on the Exchange on a second in-out referendum before 2021. In the past seven days, there's been a steady stream of money entering the market and we now have a clearer idea of how bettors see the possibility, with Yes trading at [2.8] and No at [1.52]. It's the former option I'd be on.