Today marks the one year anniversary of the General Election and what feels like the last time anything changed in UK politics. The polls are more or less identical, showing a small Conservative lead. The path of Brexit – even the government’s preferred path – is as clear as mud. The Prime Minister remains in mortal danger, amid constant rumours of her imminent demise, while rivals blatantly defy her and position for the succession.
Leaked Johnson speech piles pressure on May
Boris Johnson last night warned of a Brexit meltdown, called for Theresa May to show ‘guts’ in negotiations, the Treasury ‘the heart of Remain’ and, most incredibly, that Donald Trump would handle it better. This, after David Davis deliberately provoked widespread speculation of an imminent resignation, before reaching an uneasy compromise over the length of May’s post-Brexit ‘backstop’ plan.
By naming an end-date of 2021 for that backstop period, the Tories may have delayed their civil war for the time being but the writing is on the wall for May. Her exit during this parliament is a matter of when, rather than if. Authority over the Cabinet is evidently lost and polls taken earlier this week recorded that 24% of Tory members want her gone now and 69% before the next election.
Gove emerges as the likeliest replacement
In our market on the year of May’s exit, 2018 and 2019 are both trading around 2.8. Those combined odds means she’s rated only 28% likely to survive until 2020, let alone be around to complete the backstop period.
In the meantime, Betfair markets are signalling a new front-runner to replace May as Next Conservative Leader and Next Prime Minister. Michael Gove, recommended at 14.0 back in February, has been backed heavily and is now trading at 6.6 and 7.4 to assume those respective positions.
Whilst one must never forget the terrible record of early Conservative leader favourites, I reckon Gove’s odds still have a long way to fall. Party leader markets are never as open as they first appear. Front-runners and factional leaders emerge, like-minded MPs quickly jump behind them and the field is whittled down to at most, a handful of realistic contenders. Identify them early and you should be sitting on a nice position when the contest arrives.