UK Politics: Bettors make May 50/50 to get Brexit deal through Parliament

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The EU 27 have backed Theresa May's Brexit deal
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The EU have backed Theresa May's Brexit deal but getting support for it in Parliament will be the PM's biggest challenge, says Max Liu as discusses the latest news and odds...

"The odds on a second referendum have been moving in the past fortnight - from [3.5] two weeks ago, into [2.6], and back out to [2.92] today."

Theresa May is trading at even money to get her Brexit withdrawal bill through Parliament by the end of March after leaders of EU27 nations signed the deal at an extraordinary summit in Brussels on Sunday.

The Prime Minister now faces her biggest challenge, as she tries to get support for the deal at home. On Sunday, European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, insisted that the EU will not renegotiate the withdrawal deal, saying:

"This is the deal, it's the best deal possible and the EU will not change its fundamental position when it comes to this issue so I do think the British parliament - because this is a wise parliament - will ratify this deal."

On the Betfair Exchange, there's been a slight drift in market on the UK leaving the EU on 29 March next year - the deadline set when Article 50 was triggered in 2017 - with the price out to [1.88] (a 53% chance).

Labour, Tory and DUP MPs vow to oppose Brexit deal

Before heading to Brussels to sign the deal, May made a direct appeal to the public with an open letter that urges people to support her vision of Brexit. The PM knows, however, that the people she really needs to persuade, at least for now, are in Parliament where May faces a frantic few months as she tries to secure enough votes from MPs for the bill to pass.

Labour say they will oppose the current deal and around 80 Conservative MPs are said to be prepared to vote against it. Significantly, DUP leader Arlene Foster said on Sunday that there are no circumstances in which her party will support the deal. Foster is talking to politicians across Parliament, and on all sides of the Brexit debate (including the Chancellor Philip Hammond), about trying to put an alternative Brexit deal on the table.

Boris Johnson, who is [9.0] to be the next Tory leader, is trying to woo the DUP. He addressed their party conference in Belfast on Saturday, saying May's Brexit was a national humiliation for the UK and an historic mistake.

May is [1.84] to face a vote of no confidence in 2018, but that will require the likes of Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg and the rest of her opponents in the Tory party to get their act together fast.

Will there be an election or a referendum before Brexit?

Foster's comments signal that the government's supply and demand deal with the DUP, which was agreed after the Conservatives lost their Parliamentary majority in 2017, is in jeopardy. This increases the likelihood of a general election.

When it was put to Foster this weekend that, by withdrawing support, the DUP could cause the collapse of the government, she said that the current Brexit deal is a greater threat to Britain than a Jeremy Corbyn government. A general election before Brexit is [2.68] on the Exchange.

There are more appealing odds, however, available on a second referendum on Brexit before 2020. The price has been moving in the past fortnight - from [3.5] two weeks ago, into [2.6] amid the furore of resignations, and back out to [2.92] today.

This is a decent bet if you think Parliament will not pass the current Brexit deal. In spite of Foster's strong words, it's still difficult to believe that the DUP and Tory hard Brexiteers are prepared to bring down the government. And the Fixed Term Parliament Act means that there'd need to be a vote of no confidence in the government and support from two thirds of MPs for an election.

Still, these are unpredictable times, the atmosphere in Westminster remains febrile and anything really is possible.

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