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UK Politics: One year on from the Brexit referendum

Britain voted to Leave the EU on 23 June 2016
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On the eve of Brexit negotiations, Max Liu considers the extraordinary events of the past year and the latest odds on Britain's uncertain political future...


"You can get [2.36] on Brexit happening before 29 March 2019 while punters make it [1.08] that Theresa May will leave office before Brexit is completed."

Next Friday (June 23) it will be exactly one year since the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union. Much has happened since then, with the resignation of one Prime Minister and the appointment of another whose own premiership is now imperilled following an extraordinary general election.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has seen off a leadership challenge and, against all odds, now leads a united party that looks like a government-in-waiting. The Liberal Democrats, Ukip and the Green Party have all had changes in leadership. There have been legal challenges to Brexit, highs and lows for Leavers and Remainers, but following the election result, nobody really knows what Brexit means and when it will happen.

Betfair markets reflect the confusion. You can get [2.36] on Brexit happening before 29 March 2019 while punters make it [1.08] that Theresa May will leave office before Brexit is completed.


Brexit begins...


In the past 12 months we've heard about hard Brexit, soft Brexit, red, white and blue Brexit, smooth Brexit, Brexit that means Brexit, good deals, bad deals, no deals and more. But on Monday, negotiations will finally begin and Brexit will start to become a reality.

Prior to the general election, Britain appeared to be set to leave the European single market. Today, Brexit secretary David Davis reiterated that position. But politicians in both main parties, as well as business leaders, are calling for a rethink. At the top of government there are disagreements between the likes of Philip Hammond and Liam Fox.

The election result means there are many more Remainers in Parliament than there were two months ago. They feel emboldened by the election result and there will be rebellions against Brexit-related bills in the next couple of years. Whoever is Prime Minister will face pressure from Tory back-benchers, Leave campaigners outside Parliament and the right-wing press to implement a hard Brexit. Across Parliament, however, there simply aren't enough MPs to support it.

If Parliament can't decide on what kind of Brexit (if any) we want, then will they ask the public? Today, YouGov published a poll showing 48% support for a referendum (43% against) on the final Brexit deal, so keep an eye on the betting on another referendum before 2020.


Queen's Speech set for Wednesday but how long will May's government survive?


The Prime Minister looks increasingly isolated. Tory MPs praised her speech to the 1922 Committee on Monday, when she vowed to get her party out of the mess she got it into, but May's response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy has drawn criticism from all quarters. Her approval rating stands at -13.

Legalising fox hunting and bringing back grammar schools are likely to be missing from the Queen's Speech on Wednesday. In fact, this will probably be a very short QS, especially as the chances of another general election appear to be increasing all the time.

A second general election in 2017 is [3.6] but, according to today's Sunday Times , Tory MPs could mount a leadership challenge within ten days. A new Tory PM would almost certainly have to call another election, even though Labour are [1.95] to win most seats.

One year on from the referendum that shocked the world, everything is up in the air.


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