SBC Bookies Corner: Brexit enters its final straight

Coming up to the final straight of Brexit negotiations, Theresa May has been making a few last-minute attempts to broker a deal between the UK and the European Union.

But with only 17 days to go, rumours are continuing to circulate as to whether we will leave on time, or even whether the UK will leave the EU at all. SBC has got the bookies’ lowdown on what to expect…

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Sarbjit Bakhshi – Smarkets

SBC: PM Theresa May has ridden her Brexit strategy for two and a half years. In negotiations and political strategy – where did she stumble?

Sarbjit Bakhshi (Head of Politics – Smarkets): She had clear red lines from the beginning of this race and didn’t vary from them throughout the negotiation. She fell down by not introducing Parliament and the rest of the country to the deal with the EU which she could have done any time from 2017.

Mat Shaddick – Ladbrokes

Failing to build a consensus around the deal and running down the clock at a much earlier point has put her in an impossible position.

SBC: Chuka Umunna’s Independent Group has garnered much media attention, but are the ‘cross-party rebels’ just a one trick pony?

Mat Shaddick (Head of Politics – Ladbrokes): At the moment, it is 20/1 that “Any Other Party” wins most seats at the next election and that might not be a bad bet. It will happen one day and the current situation could hardly be more amenable to a major shift in the party system

SBC: Brexit has changed the landscape of UK politics, does the UK, therefore, need to reform Parliament to suit the modern day? or are we stuck in an endless cycle of political drudgery?

Harry Aitkenhead – Coral

Harry Aitkenhead (PR Executive – Ladbrokes Coral): The political landscape has changed so much through the last few years and people’s attitudes are starting to change more than anything.

Just this week we had a customer in the UK place a three-figure bet on Russell Brand to become Prime Minister (at 500/1). Whether he knows something we don’t (it’s now 200/1!) or not it’s an apt metaphor for both how people are fed up and also to expect the unexpected in the future.

I can’t see anything major changing in the next few years and the political uncertainty in both parties means that in our book 2022 is the favourite to be the year of the next General Election. We definitely need some kind of change but unfortunately, MPs seem to be a long way from agreeing on anything at the moment let alone any major changes.

Sarbjit Bakhshi:  There is plenty of scope to reform Parliament and bring it up to date, but I would argue that Brexit has already started to change the way Parliament works.

With the Government no longer able to command a majority in the House, smaller parties are beginning to push their agendas with the Government in return for support, as the DUP have done to date with their ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement which tore up the Barnett Formula.

Brexit has even seen the Government try to resort to Henry VIII powers to get changes through Parliament without scrutiny, so it appears we are stretching the borders of convention to get Government to function. A radical transformation of the UK economy following a Hard Brexit would provide the impetus to make radical political changes too.

Matthew Shaddick: One could argue that Parliament is doing a pretty good job of holding the executive to account right now.

The tension of having a referendum result which most MPs disagreed with was bound to cause a problem but this unique situation probably isn’t a good argument for comprehensive constitutional change.

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