Crunch time, it seems, is finally here. After over two years of speculation – not to mention several hours during the Cabinet meeting – Theresa May released her proposed withdrawal agreement to the media last night. As the details are digested over the coming hours, the world awaits to see what happens next – regarding both Brexit or May’s future.
In keeping with an almost universal narrative, the signals from Betfair markets are neither clear or indicative of confidence in any particular direction. At odds of 1.79, a timely Brexit on 29/03/2019 is rated 56% likely – slightly down. Another In/Out Referendum before 2020 is trading at 3.1 (32%) – slightly up.
Major gamble underway on May leaving this year
In another fundamentally related market, odds about a 2019 Election hit new lows before settling around 2.6 (38%). However the main action concerned Theresa May’s Exit Date. The odds about her going this year fell sharply to the current 2.9 (34%) (correct as of 07:30 on Thursday) in anticipation of rebel MPs forcing a confidence vote.
I’ve been waiting for such a collapse since recommending Oct-Dec at 6.6 back in July, in expectation of this moment. The point when it becomes abundantly clear that May’s version of Brexit would be nowhere near hard enough for her party – ‘Brexit in name only’. Needless to say, Leave.EU and Boris Johnson didn’t take long to respond.
WATCH | @BorisJohnson responds to the news that a BRINO fudge has been agreed, reeling off the 101 issues that are wrong with May's deal.
In a nutshell: "This is a catastrophe, this approach."
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) November 13, 2018
Indeed criticism from the Right was both widespread and immediate, with some like arch-Brexiteer Iain Dale saying he would rather Remain, as this deal was worse. It was widely reported that more letters from the ‘hard Brexit’ ERG would be sent to 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady – 48 would trigger a confidence vote. Of course we’ve heard all of this before but I do think we are in new territory.
The numbers are surely there if necessary, as previous threats were basically leverage aimed at influencing policy. Now May has failed to deliver and – if losing a parliamentary vote, will be seen to have failed – the lame duck PM may have served her purpose.