UK Politics: New Year brings old problems for Corbyn and May

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May
Can Corbyn and May unite their parties in 2019?

The Prime Minister says parliament will vote on the Brexit withdrawal bill in the next fortnight. But she'll struggle to get MPs onside as Brexit divisions continue into 2019, says Max Liu.

"The Prime Minister said on Sunday morning that parliament will vote on the withdrawal bill on 14 or 15 January. The next week will be pivotal, as May's team try to persuade Conservative MPs to vote with the government."

In Westminster, it's a case of New Year familiar situation for two main party leaders. Theresa May is facing a revolt from her MPs, who are refusing to vote for her Brexit withdrawal bill, while Labour MPs and members are frustrated at Jeremy Corbyn's unwillingness to back a second Brexit referendum, which is 2.942/1 on the Exchange to happen this year.

May confirms parliament will vote on Brexit withdrawal bill

The Prime Minister said on Sunday morning that parliament will vote on the withdrawal bill on 14 or 15 January. The next week will be pivotal, as May's team try to persuade Conservative MPs to vote with the government. Many Tory Brexiteers have said they will not vote for the PM's deal, while the Tories' partners in government, the DUP, have said it is impossible for them to back it.

Parliament is 1.594/7 not to pass the Brexit bill before March 30 and bettors make it 1.635/8 that the UK will leave the EU by 29 March, as it's scheduled to by the terms of Article 50. If bettors are right, the government will have to extend Article 50 with the approval of all 27 EU members.

Pass Brexit bill or enter unchartered territory, May warns MPs

May returns from the Christmas break still insisting that her Brexit withdrawal deal is the only one on the table. On Sunday, in an interview with Andrew Marr, she accused her opponents of failing to put forward an alternative. She said that in her view there shouldn't be a second referendum on Brexit which she thinks would amount to "disrespecting the will of the people." However, May didn't quite rule out holding a second referendum if parliament votes for it.

Asked by Marr if she would rule out a no deal Brexit, May said: "I've always said no deal is better than a bad deal. What we have is a good deal." That won't reassure those who believe that a no deal Brexit would be disastrous for the UK.

The PM was also asked if she'd be prepared to stand down in order to save her deal, allowing somebody else to negotiate the rest of Brexit. May refused to say whether she would remain in office for a matter of months or years. On Sportsbook, however, May is 1/3 to be replaced in 2019.

Warren fires starting pistol for 2020 Democrat primaries

Across the pond, the US government is in one of its periodic shutdowns, as the White House and Congress have reached a budget deadlock over President Trump's plans to build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants from central and south America - a key pledge in his 2016 presidential campaign. Talks are reportedly underway between both sides to break the deadlock, although based on his tweet on Saturday night Trump is no mood to compromise:

Elsewhere in the US, there is considerable activity in the Democratic Party, as potential presidential candidates for 2020 intensify their preparations. Elizabeth Warren, who announced earlier this week that she was exploring the possibility of running next year, made a five city tour of Iowa - a state that will be crucial during the 2020 primaries - this weekend.

Warren is 15.014/1 to be the Democrat candidate in 2020. She's won support from the left of the party for her criticisms of big banks and corporations, but currently trails Beto O'Rourke 5.24/1, Kamala Harris 5.49/2 and Joe Biden 8.415/2 in the betting. Bernie Sanders, who was pipped to the nomination by Hillary Clinton in 2016, is 27.026/1.

Exchange bettors, meanwhile, make the Democrats 1.728/11 favourites ahead of the Republicans 2.35/4 to be the winning party next year.

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