If Betfair markets are any indication of how likely the U.K. is of leaving the European Union on time, then that prospect looks to be fading fast. This follows a truly remarkable couple of days in in parliament which now leaves the U.K in a state scratching their head on when Brexit will actually happen.
What is Brexit?
Brexit is the process of Britain exiting the European Union – an organisation they joined in 1973 but voted to leave via a 2016 referendum. The official exit date is March 29th, 2019 when the withdrawal process known as Article 50 expires. Deep uncertainty, however, persists regarding whether or when they will leave, or what the relationship will be moving forward.
How this unprecedented and complicated process unfolds is also a multi-faceted betting heat, driven by very fast-moving, unpredictable events. The facts will likely have changed by the time this article is finished.
As things stand, the UK will leave on 29/03/19 and, after two years of farcical negotiations, the government has agreed a withdrawal deal with the EU. If the consent of the UK and EU parliaments is secured, a lengthy transition period will guard against immediate, dramatic consequences. The most difficult questions will be delayed.
If parliament rejects the deal, though, all manner of disruption involving everything from trade, transportation, medicines and food security is widely predicted. Even proponents of ‘no deal’ – in which scenario the UK would trade on WTO rules – acknowledge it requires preparation and management which the government has failed to do.
Why the chaos?
The problem is that Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal pleases hardly anybody. As in 2016, the population is broadly split 50/50. Remainers hate a deal that is worse than the status quo. Leavers dismiss it as ‘Brexit in name only’ – a trap that would result in colony status. In expectation of humiliating defeat, May cancelled last week’s parliamentary vote on the deal.
The vote on her deal is now re-scheduled for mid-January. Few expect it to win, because her attempts to secure concessions from the EU will not materialise. At this point, all hell will break loose as parliament tries to take control of the process.
What happens next?
Betting on Brexit is nothing like an election or even leadership contests. This puzzle involves predicting the choices of politicians, as opposed to voters. The party leaders are restricted by factional and electoral considerations. Literally nobody knows how, if ever, Brexit ends.