UK Politics Odds: Johnson under fire but Tories backed to win by-elections

  • Max Liu
  • 3:00 min read
Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron
Johnson and Macron clashed at the G7 summit this weekend

Get the latest UK politics odds as Boris Johnson comes under pressure over Brexit and lockdown restrictions ahead of next week's by-election says Max Liu...

"Bettors are confident the Conservatives will take another piece of 'red wall' on 1 July in the Yorkshire constituency, although there has been a slight drift this week: they are 1.351/3 to win."

The Conservatives are heavy odds-on to win the first of two upcoming by-elections on Thursday when voters go to the polls in Chesham and Amersham.

On the Exchange the Tories are 1.051/20 to win a constituency where they have never lost since it was founded in 1974. They have never taken less than 50% of the vote there and, with the opposition parties refusing to form an alliance, the Liberal Democrats are the Tories' nearest rivals at 16.5.

And yet this is a place that voted Remain in the 2016 in-out referendum, so the potential could have been there for a closer contest. That looks out of the question now and the Tories are set to retain their majority.

Tories boosted by absence of pro-Brexit parties in Batley and Spen

Whether they can add to it a fortnight later is a bigger question when the Batley and Spen by-election takes place.

Bettors are confident the Conservatives will take another piece of 'red wall' on 1 July in the Yorkshire constituency, although there has been a slight drift this week: they are 1.351/3 to win while Labour, for whom the late Jo Cox's sister Kim Leadbetter is standing, are 3.65.

Labour are defending a majority of just 3,525 and, while the history of the constituency and its demographics make it a very different place to Hartlepool where Labour lost in May, the absence of other parties should help the Tories.

The candidates were declared this week and it was interesting to note that the pro-Brexit Heavy Woollen Independents are not fielding one. They came third in Batley and Spen at the 2019 general election and, in a seat where the majority is thin, the votes of the 6000-plus constituents who backed them could be a big boost to the Conservatives.

Johnson remains popular ahead of lockdown announcement

Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson at home and abroad.

This weekend he clashed with French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and European commission president Ursula von der Leyen at the G7 summit in Cornwall. They told him to implement the Brexit deal in full and abide by the Northern Ireland protocol.

Johnson was hoping to use the G7 to promote Brexit Britain's global prominence but his plans were scuppered when tensions boiled over between EU leaders and the UK prime minister. Angela Merkel was pictured declining to bump elbows with Johnson.

Angela Merkel 956.jpg

Does any of this matter for our purposes? Not in the immediate term but further ahead it could have an impact on the public's attitudes to the government.

The Conservatives are 1.9720/21 to win a majority at the next general election which is in keeping with most polls that put them at around 10 points ahead of Labour.

This week polling by Ipsos Mori showed that, when it comes to public satisfaction with prime ministers at this stage of their premierships, Johnson comes out second only to Tony Blair:

Blair won majorities at three general elections and, while Johnson is unlikely to stick around long enough to do that, the 1.84/5 on him leading his party until at least 2024 is appealing.

A poll from the same firm showed Keir Starmer's public approval rating falling again. He's 2.245/4 to leave as Labour leader in 2024 in a market where the prices on other options - 2021 4.67/2, 2022 3.3512/5, 2023 3.953/1 - reflect ongoing uncertainty about the direction of his leadership.

Net satisfaction with Starmer currently stands at -29 - exactly the same figure that Jeremy Corbyn had at this stage (14 months in) of his leadership.

Johnson, meanwhile, is preparing to announce on Monday that all lockdown restrictions will not be lifted as planned on 21 June.

There were reports that the government feared a political crisis if it failed to meet its own deadline on the lifting of restrictions, but polling this week indicated majority support for a delay.

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