UK Politics: Hammond prepares last budget before Brexit

The UK Parliament in Westminster
Uncertainty surround UK politics ahead of Brexit
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As the chancellor prepares to deliver his last budget before Brexit, Max Liu assesses the latest odds on Britain's departure from the European Union...

"A second referendum before 2020 is out to [3.75] on the Betfair Exchange. A general election before Brexit is considered more likely at [2.88]."

When Philip Hammond delivers his budget on Monday, there will be exactly five months to go until Brexit. The UK is [1.53] to leave the European Union by 29 March 2019, so tomorrow's budget will be the last before Britain ends almost half-a-century inside the European community and takes a leap into the great unknown.

Hammond, who has been criticised by Tory Leavers for his pessimism about Brexit, has called this "the impossible budget". It might well turn out to be a meaningless one, with considerable uncertainty surrounding Britain's economic future, and a post-Brexit budget already mooted for the spring.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has already dismissed the notion that the budget will herald the end of austerity. McDonnell says the budget does nothing to tackle the crisis brought about by the disastrous roll out of universal credit which has plunged families into poverty and contributed to Britain's escalating homelessness crisis. McDonnell says a Labour government would not only end austerity but reverse it.

EU leader rubbishes May's claim of 90% Brexit deal

Hammond's budget is largely irrelevant because we still don't know the terms of Brexit and what it will mean for Britain. With a no deal Brexit trading at evens on Sportsbook, everything is up in the air and the chancellor cannot be certain of how much money he has to work with.

This week, Theresa May claimed that a deal between the UK and EU was 90% done. The European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt, however, shot back, saying that 0% of the deal was complete due to May's failure to come up with a solution to the Irish border question.

At the same time, the EU's Donald Tusk told May this week that he's ready to resurrect plans for an emergency Brexit summit in November where a deal might be thrashed out.

Cross-party coalition urges Labour to support new Brexit referendum

A new cross-party coalition of MPs wants to persuade the Labour leadership to back a second referendum on Brexit. The group, which is made up of Tory, Labour and SNP politicians, believes it can table a "killer amendment" that would leave May with no other option but to let the public vote on the Brexit deal.

The group are hoping to build on the momentum generated by last weekend's People's Vote march in London. Labour have so far declined to explicitly back at second referendum, although there are signs that they will budge on the issue, with shadow Brexit secretary saying the option remains on the table.

A week on from the People's Vote march, which some hope will prove to be a turning point in the Brexit process, a second referendum before 2020 is out to [3.75] on the Betfair Exchange, while a general election before Brexit is considered more likely at [2.88].

Do Tories' narrow poll leads mean anything?

Which party would win that election? This week's YouGov poll gives the Tories a five point lead, while the same polling firm have 35% choosing May as their preferred Prime Minister over Corbyn (24). Ipsos Mori published polling this week that gives the Tories a lead of two.

Given that pollsters have consistently been inaccurate about voting intention at recent general elections and referendums, it might be wise to take these figures lightly. Bettors should also remember that, when May called the election in 2017, Labour trailed the Tories by as much as 18 points in some polls. They proved to have an awesome campaign ground game, winning over millions of voters in the run up to polling day.

That said, Labour might be concerned by data published this week that shows Corbyn's popularity - as preferred PM - among voters aged 18 to 24 falling from 65% in summer 2017 to 35% today.

Exchange bettors currently make Labour [2.24] to win the next general election, with the Tories [1.92]. Labour are the value.

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