UK Politics Odds: Will Boris Johnson's poll bounce last?

  • Max Liu
  • 5:00 min read
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson
It's been a good week for this pair

The odds shortened on the Conservatives winning the next election after Boris Johnson's government enjoyed a poll bounce, while Donald Trump was acquitted in the US Senate, reports Max Liu...

"Johnson’s premiership may still be irretrievably damaged, and his appetite for the demands of the job may be waning, so I wouldn’t take 1.834/5 on him leading them to 2024 or later. There’s also the impact of Brexit to consider and how that plays out over the next few years."

The odds on the Conservatives winning a majority at the next general election shortened to 3.211/5 this week as a series of polls gave them an increased lead over Labour. The price on the Tories winning the most seats - they currently have a majority of 80 - also narrowed to 1.768/11.

Three leading pollsters showed the Tories five or six points ahead of the opposition and one had Boris Johnson extending his lead over Keir Starmer as voters' preferred prime minister.

The Tories, who have seen a decline in popularity since last summer, may be benefitting from the Covid-19 vaccine roll out and renewed optimism among voters, in spite of the ongoing lockdown and the huge numbers of infections and casualties since Christmas.

Some commentators have even speculated that, in a post-pandemic Britain, Johnson could even be tempted to try to capitalise on the good feeling and call an early election. But that could backfire and a 2024 election is 1.412/5.

Don't count on poll bounce lasting

It's highly questionable whether the government's bounce will last. In 2007 and 2008, support for Gordon Brown remained fairly consistent, but it dropped off once the worst of the financial crisis was over and recriminations began, even though most experts agree that the measures Brown put in place narrowly averted an even greater disaster.

Brown was a broken PM after 2008 and always looked destined to lead Labour to defeat in 2010. Johnson is a different kind of politician and personality. He lacks the wit for introspection or self-doubt and will try to brazenly bluster his way through the fall-out from the pandemic.

But Johnson's premiership may still be irretrievably damaged, and his appetite for the demands of the job may be waning, so I wouldn't take 1.834/5 on him leading them to 2024 or later. There's also the impact of Brexit to consider and how that plays out over the next few years.

It's interesting to see 2023 now the second favourite year for Johnson's exit, with the odds drifting on him going in 2021.

Is Starmer leading Labour to defeat?

Another big factor in the Tories' success will be the performance of their opponents.
This week's polling will be worrying for Starmer, whose progress as Labour leader was examined earlier this week, and he is coming under pressure from within his party to set out what exactly he stands for.

Keir Starmer Labour 956.jpg

Peter Mandelson is reportedly being conscripted to help. He masterminded Labour's landslide election victory in 1997, so they're hoping he will bring some winning mentality and political nous. He may be able to help the leadership communicate more effectively but Mandelson wasn't much help when he was brought in to help Brown in the late-2000s, so it looks like a fairly retrograde move. Labour under Starmer is, according to one perceptive commentator this week, "thinking too small."

In '97, there was a 10.2% swing from Conservative to Labour - the biggest electoral swing at a UK general election since 1945. To win a majority next time they'd need to add 124 seats to their total, so their most realistic target for 2024 should be to achieve a smaller swing that would stop the Tories winning a majority. A hung parliament 2.186/5 is still the strongest runner on the Exchange.

Trump acquitted - will he run again?

Donald Trump was acquitted this weekend of inciting rioters to storm the capitol, as the odds indicated. Fifty-seven US senators voted to convict Trump, including seven Republicans, but that was short of the threshold required.

Under the US constitution, that leaves Trump free to run for the presidency again, as he only served one term in the White House (2017-2021), so it's probably fair to say we haven't seen the last of Trump or his political ambitions.

Following yesterday's acquittal, Trump is 6.25/1 to be the Republican candidate - ahead of Nikki Haley 8.615/2 who criticised him publicly this week - and he is 10.09/1 to win the presidential election.

UK - Next General Election: UK - Next General Election (Overall Majority)

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Thursday 2 May, 7.00am

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