UK Politics Latest Odds: Will voters ever forgive government's Xmas u-turn?

  • Max Liu
  • 4:00 min read
Health secretary Matt Hancock
Hancock is 12/1 to be the next cabinet minister to leave

Get the latest UK politics odds as Boris Johnson performs dramatic Xmas u-turn and a senior Tory backbencher calls for Matt Hancock to resign, as Max Liu reports...

"Priti Patel is the 5/1 favourite in the Sportsbook’s next cabinet minister to leave market but Hancock looks like value at 12/1."

Will Boris Johnson go down in history as the prime minister who cancelled Christmas? Johnson is 2.68/5 to leave office next year after he performed a dramatic u-turn and introduced strict new lockdown measures that will destroy millions of people's plans this festive season.

Johnson is 2.526/4 to lead his party until 2024 - the year when the next general election is scheduled - after a year that has seen the PM's popularity plummet.

Millions of people won't be able to spend time with their families this Christmas and, even if the public recognises that the new measures are necessary, many will be unhappy about the way the government has gone about it.

Labour has already started trying to exploit this angle. Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said this morning that the government's action was "absolutely right" but had come too late after a week of "dither and delay". It's been a theme of 2020: Nandy's words would apply to the decision to implement the first national lockdown in March and the second in November.

Earlier this week Labour urged the government to reverse their plans for Christmas. The government refused, with Johnson accusing Keir Starmer on Wednesday of wanting to "cancel Christmas". Those words have already come back to haunt the government.

Boris Johnson at a school 956.jpg

A year after winning an 80-seat majority in the general election, the Conservatives are out to 3.613/5 to win a majority at the next election. The US presidential election this autumn proved that coronavirus can be a decisive issue at the ballot box.

It is 1.422/5 that the next election will be in 2024 so expect the government to spend the next three years blaming others for their mistakes and claiming that they did the best possible job in the worst possible circumstances. But the government has been overtaken by events repeatedly and failed to learn from its mistakes. The electorate is unlikely to forget the debacle of Christmas 2020.

Tory calls for Matt Hancock to quit

Health secretary Matt Hancock is also under fire over the government's Christmas u-turn. He admitted on Sunday that the coronavirus was not under control. Hancock was close to tears and obviously feeling the strain on this morning's Andrew Marr Show.

Priti Patel is the 5/1 favourite in the Sportsbook's next cabinet minister to leave market but Hancock looks like value at 12/1. Even if Johnson refused to criticise his health secretary, the PM could remove him in the New Year on the grounds that Hancock has presided over a gruelling 12 months and needs a rest.

Conservative backbenchers, who have previously criticised Johnson's handling of the pandemic, are reported to be angry about the new rules. Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, told today's Sunday Telegraph: "Given that the Prime Minister is not going to resign, perhaps it is time for Matt Hancock to consider his position."

That sounds pretty ominous for the health secretary and he could well be the first fall guy for this administration.

Starmer's bid to win back Scotland

Labour, meanwhile, are trying to make inroads in Scotland by announcing that they would devolve more power to the Scottish Parliament.

Polling showed last week that Labour are winning back Leave voters in England from the Conservatives, as well as picking up Remainers who voted Liberal Democract in 2019.

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Labour have a big problem in Scotland though. They had 41 seats there in 2010 but today have only one and Starmer knows they need to tackle the question of Scottish independence without undermining their commitment to the union.

In a keynote speech tomorrow, the Labour leader will say the party's next manifesto will lay out a programme to win power "in order to push as much power as possible away from Westminster".

New polling for next year's crucial Scottish Parliament elections shows the SNP are on course to win a commanding majority at Holyrood - an outcome Nicola Sturgeon has said would give her the mandate to call for another referendum on independence.

Boris Johnson has said he would not allow a referendum to take place and it is 2.0421/20 that there will be no such vote before 2025. Perhaps he'll change his mind and perform another u-turn.

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