This article was first written on 15th April 2019. It is very much an article I wish could be re-written, given that the betting has moved horribly against Labour since. As always, though, we must publish the bad bets as well as the good ones. DO NOT FOLLOW THE BET!
In last week’s update, I took an optimistic line that the Brexit endgame was nigh and that clarity would soon emerge. That, I must now admit, was wrong. Sorry, fellow Brits, this nightmare will go on and on. The domino effect discussed there has been delayed.
A50 extension leaves Brexit in limbo
The flaw in the theory involved extending Article 50. I expected either a short extension, to facilitate the Withdrawal Agreement’s assent through parliament, or a long extension that would enable a rethink or renegotiation. Instead, October is now the likely new deadline, assuming that Theresa May doesn’t miraculously get the WA through imminently.
The new dates solve absolutely nothing. Cross-party talks are floundering, predictably, because for all the will in the world, May or Jeremy Corbyn represent very different audiences and priorities. A deal would be ruinous for both their individual careers and possibly parties. Labour particularly have no incentive to help the Tories end their self-created nightmare.
Euro elections rated almost inevitable
Instead, therefore, the next stage of this saga will be the European Elections – the UK is now rated 91% likely to participate at odds of 1.1. The government is still determined to avoid them but those odds reflect that everyone expects and is preparing for them. The outcome will not only profoundly impact what happens next with Brexit, but has the potential to blow up and realign the British party system.
As many of us have been warning for months, this is fast becoming an existential crisis for the Conservative Party. Their members and voters are overwhelmingly Brexiteers. As a result of the government’s negotiation strategy, their favoured outcome is now to leave without a deal. Predictably many feel betrayed. These polls must terrify both May and any of her potential successors.