UK Politics: Time to bet against Brexit?

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Will the UK still be in the EU after March 29 2019?
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With less than a year to go until the UK is supposed to leave the European Union, the government is still mishandling Brexit. Does this mean it's time to bet against Brexit? Max Liu discusses the latest news and market moves in UK politics...

"The [2.34] on the UK remaining in the EU after March 29 2019 is appealing, but [4.5] on a second referendum by 2020 looks more generous. With both main parties divided over Brexit, asking the public to vote again could be the best way to settle the argument."

Ever since last December, when Theresa May reached agreement with Jean-Claude Juncker et al in the first stage of the Brexit talks, it's been odds on that the UK will leave the European Union by next year's March 29 deadline. At [1.62], that's still the case but, at the moment, it seems more likely every week that the Brexiteers' dream is dying.

As Paul Krishnamurty says in his article on the chances of a general election this year, the Prime Minister is finding it impossible to unite the Conservative party over thorny Brexit matter such as the customs union and the Irish border.

Is the Brexiteers' dream dying?

The government's difficulties don't necessarily mean the UK will miss the March 2019 deadline, as the UK could formally leave the EU by the agreed date, but still keep in place many of its current arrangements with the Brussels.

That option is what the Brexiteers fear. Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, who campaigned for years to see the UK leave the EU, said on Friday that so-called Brexit-lite represented "the worst of both worlds" and that the UK would be better off staying in than leaving merely in name.

On Sunday, another arch-Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg, praised the PM, calling her "the most impressive, dutiful leader we've ever had." He scotched suggestions that he will challenge her for the Conservative Party leadership - he's [5.9] favourite to be next leader - but added that he's determined to deliver Brexit. Rees-Mogg reiterated his view that remaining in the customs union would not constitute leaving for the UK.

As far as the Brexit odds are concerned, the [2.34] on the UK remaining in the EU after March 29 2019 is appealing, but [4.5] on a second referendum by 2020 looks more generous. With both main parties divided over Brexit, asking the public to vote again could be the best way to settle the argument.

Landslide victory in Irish referendum puts pressure on Northern Ireland

The biggest political news of the weekend does not concern Brexit. Instead, it's the landslide victory for Yes in Ireland's referendum on liberalising abortion laws. The Irish people voted 66 to 34% on Friday in favour of abolishing the eighth amendment to the constitution that gave equal legal status to the lives of a foetus and the woman carrying it, in a result that was hailed as a "quiet revolution" by Irish PM Leo Varadkar.

Westminster MPs, including Labour's Stella Creasy and the Conservatives' Penny Morduant, have already said that the result should put pressure on Northern Ireland's government to liberalise their country's laws - some of the strictest in Europe - on abortion.

There will be firm opposition to reform - especially from DUP politicians like Ian Paisley, who's already said Northern Ireland won't be "bullied into accepting abortion on demand" - but the result south of the border is another reminder that the times they are a-changin'.

Could Harriet Harman succeed John Bercow as Speaker?

Betfair have a market on the next Speaker of the House of Commons. There isn't much liquidity in there at the moment but that will change if pressure builds on the current Speaker, John Bercow, to resign.

Bercow, who has always been a controversial Speaker, has been accused of bullying staff and insulting MPs. He's been dubbed the "Teflon Speaker", and reportedly intends to stay in place until the next general election ([2.44] to be in 2022), but regardless of when Bercow goes, Harriet Harman is emerging as a strong candidate to replace him.

The former-Labour deputy leader wants the job and is [6.6] in the betting.

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