Britain has a new Prime Minister and after Boris Johnson’s radical Cabinet reshuffle, the best political betting sites expect an imminent General Election. At 6/5, only one firm are offering better than evens about an election occurring before the end of 2019. Before that, there is the small matter of the Brecon and Radnorshire By Election – which could reduce Johnson’s majority to just 1.
Recall petition leaves Tories very vulnerable
This by-election was called after the Tory MP Chris Davies faced a recall petition over a false expenses claim. Davies is standing again but the betting signals are grim – the Lib Dems’ Jane Dodd is rated 1/20 to win with 888Sport, compared to 10/1 with bet365 about the Tory.
No surprise, given that a recent NumbersCrunchers poll recorded the Lib Dems on 43% – 15% ahead of the Tories with the Brexit Party third on 20%. This rural Welsh seat was a Lib Dem stronghold from 1987 to 2015 and, if they are to recover the national position held prior to that historic low, this is a must win.
The national significance should not be understated. It is not only Johnson’s first electoral test but also new Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. An expected thrashing for Labour, polling at 8%, will pile further pressure Jeremy Corbyn. Moreover, the result will be measured in terms of what it says about Brexit. For this constituency voted perfectly in line with the nation in 2016 – 52-48 to Leave.
Indeed the dynamics of this Welsh battle will play out again all over rural and suburban England in a General Election. A Tory-held marginal where the Lib Dems are the only danger, and poised to sweep the Remainer vote. The heavier the defeat, the more risky that general election plan becomes.