Smarkets has reviewed the surprise promotions and cruel dismissals of PM Boris Johnson‘s latest cabinet reshuffle, forecasting its consequences on the future of UK politics.
Prior to Wednesday’s proceedings, Westminster sources had detailed that Johnson was seeking to re-energise his senior cabinet with strong and competent characters to lead key departments post-pandemic.
Yet, remaining loyal to his lieutenants, Johnson retained Dominic Raab, promoting the Foreign Affairs Secretary lambasted over his handling of Afghanistan’s withdrawal to lead the Ministry of Justice replacing Robert Buckland.
“It was an eventful reshuffle as far as Smarkets customers were concerned,” remarked Matt Shaddick, Head of Politics at Smarkets.
“Dominic Raab had been favourite in the ‘Next Cabinet Minister to leave’ market ever since his holiday plans ended up clashing with events in Afghanistan, so Johnson’s decision to keep him in the cabinet wouldn’t have gone down very well with some punters.”
Johnson followed script by axing gaffe-prone Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and demoting Amanda Milling as Chair of the Conservative Party – replaced by former DCMS Secretary Oliver Dowden.
Raised eyebrows followed the PM’s sacking of Robert Jenrick as Housing Secretary. The ‘millennial MP’ was regarded as a Boris groomed acolyte, staunchly defending the PM from criticism on the handling of the pandemic, NHS contracts and personal attacks by former advisor Dominic Cummings.
“Only Williamson had been amongst the favourites, but one or two shrewd Smarkets observers managed to back Robert Jenrick at 28/1,” Shaddick commented on market outcomes.
Elsewhere, Liz Truss was deemed the biggest winner of Boris’ reshuffle, promoted to the high ranks of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs replacing Dominic Raab.
Truss has gained significant admirers from the Conservative base, branded as one of the party’s high achievers in performing her duties as International Trade Secretary post-Brexit.
“Micheal Gove and Liz Truss had been the two at the top of the betting in our Next Foreign Secretary odds, but the rumours on the day proved accurate as Truss was backed into heavy odds-on before the announcement that she’d got the job” noted Shaddick.
“That was enough to move her into second favourite in the next Tory leader market at around 8.4 (12% chance) on the Smarkets exchange. Those who backed her at 80.0 back in 2020 are sitting on a pretty nice position now.”
Johnson’s diciest promotion saw junior minister Nadine Dorries appointed as DCMS Secretary to the surprise of all observers. Shaddick reacted: “If there had been a market on Nadine Dorries joining the cabinet, I doubt there would have many backers even if you’d offered 100/1.”
The outspoken MP will oversee a significant step-up in duties, handling the cultural briefs of reforming the BBC, digital rights, football governance and Ofcom leadership appointment.
Instant reaction to the cabinet’s shake-up saw media outline that the PM had ‘settled on his team’ to contest a General Election in 2023. Johnson boosted market rumours by providing a “half-time pep talk” at the cabinet’s first meeting on Friday, warning secretaries that “this is the moment when we spit out the orange peel”.
“Whether this all tells us very much about the next general election or not is doubtful. The chances of it being held in 2023 have continued to rise, now up to around 38% and that seems to make a lot of sense,” Shaddick observed.
“The odds of the Tories remaining the biggest party have stayed reasonably steady at around 67% despite the polls having moved toward Labour in recent days.”