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UK Politics Bets for 2016: EU Referendum, London Mayor and Corbyn's comeback

The EU referendum is likely to be in 2016
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After UK politics threw up big surprises in 2015, Max Liu attempts the difficult task of predicting what will happen in Westminster and beyond in 2016...


"At [1.79], Labour's Sadiq Khan is a worthy favourite to win the London mayoral election in May."

Corbyn will hang on as Labour leader

Can things get worse for Labour in 2016? Will this be the year when the party truly goes into meltdown and even splits in two? In many ways, 2016 should be a better year for Labour because there's a) no general election for them to lose and b) opportunities to make gains. A New Year shadow cabinet reshuffle is expected, with rumours that Hilary Benn and Maria Eagle will be sacked. This will mean acrimony among Labour MPs in the short term but, in the longer term, it could create greater unity at the top of the party. The path to May's local elections should be fairly clear and, if Labour do well, I'd back Corbyn to see out 2016 as leader. You can get [1.75] on him leaving before the next general election but, at [2.26], "No" is the better bet at the moment.


EU Referendum will be held

Three years ago, when David Cameron vowed to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU before the end of 2017, Ukip were riding high and the PM's priority was to hold on to Tory voters for the 2015 general election. Having achieved that, Cameron now faces a problem of his own making. He would probably love to forget the whole thing - you can get [10.0] on no EU referendum in this parliament - but Cameron daren't break this promise. He would be wiser to abandon the charade of getting Britain a better deal from EU leaders and get the referendum out of the way as soon as possible. Everyone knows that Cameron wants Britain to stay in and he recently hinted that the vote could take place this summer. It will be surprising if it isn't done and dusted by the autumn.


Britons will opt to stay in the EU

Those who want Britain to leave the EU are divided and disorganised, with Tory backbenchers, Ukip MEPS and others all squabbling about who should and shouldn't make the case for the BREXIT. In spite of Corbyn's misgivings, the three main parties will join forces, with popular pro-Europeans, including Alan Johnson and Kenneth Clarke, persuading Britons that our future lies within the EU. I could be wrong and, if the out campaign can get its act together soon and get a few business figures on board, then the BREXIT might not a bad bet at [2.74]. With so much at stake it's far likelier that the established order will assert itself between now and voting day. At [1.53], I'd back Britain to stay in.


Labour will recapture the capital while SNP dominate Holyrood

At [1.79], Labour's Sadiq Khan is a worthy favourite to win the London mayoral election in May. Not that Zac Goldsmith [2.3] is a weak candidate - his progressive views and independent streak make him a sound choice for his party. At the general election, though, Labour took 45 of 73 London seats, increasing their share of the vote. Khan has strong credentials, having grown up in Tooting as the son of an immigrant bus driver and gone on to be a popular MP there.

Labour's problems are set to continue in Scotland, however, with the SNP [1.02] to win most seats in May's Scottish elections. I wouldn't write off Labour long term in Scotland and Corbyn's leadership should appeal to progressives north of the border. In 2016, though, Nicola Sturgeon's party will consolidate their position and possibly call for a second referendum on independence - it is, after all, the reason they exist.


Forget Osborne et al - this could be the year when a Tory outsider emerges

Former-chancellors don't always make good party leaders - just ask Gordon Brown - which is why the Tory party must look beyond George Osborne [2.92] for its next leader. Boris Johnson's [5.4] star faded in 2015, as I expected it would when he returned to Parliament, while Teresa May's [8.4] conference speech was ill-judged and divisive. The Tory Party should look beyond these three for its next leader and embrace a new generation of talents. Sajid Javid [14.0], Nicky Morgan [32.0] and Priti Patel [42.0] are all ones to watch in 2016.


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