UK General Election Betting Odds

It's a question of when rather than if there will be a General Election now after the most turbulent month in recent British political history. Boris Johnson has failed to win any of his first six votes in the House of Commons as Prime Minister with one of them seeing a bill preventing a No Deal Brexit written into law.

UK General Election Betting Odds

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Boris Johnson to be replaced at Prime Minster in 20196/4Ladbrokes

Two of Johnson's failed votes were to force a snap election in mid-October with the opposition - headed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - shrewdly deciding against it. Why shrewdly?

Well, Johnson's intention was to pitch himself as the people's candidate against a Parliament which had tried to thwart 'the will of the people'. By delaying it, Johnson will almost certainly have to go back on his “do or die” pledge to leave the EU on October 31st.

On Wednesday, the Scottish Supreme Court ruled that Monday's prorogation of Parliament was unlawful and – more damagingly – that the PM had misled the Queen in requesting said prorogation. No 10 will now go to the UK Supreme Court which could hear the appeal as early as next week.

While it is dangerous to assume anything in British politics right now, let us assume that No 10 is successful in its appeal (given the High Court last week ruled prorogation was legal) and that Parliament reconvenes on October 14th as per Johnson's wishes.

The anti-No Deal bill means he must ask the EU for an extension if a deal has not been agreed by October 19th.

Can Johnson survive?

With a deal looking unlikely, although there are rumours he could abandon the DUP by proposing a Northern Ireland-only backstop, Johnson faces all sorts of potential fates (including prison) should he break the law and go all out for No Deal. But the most immediate would be political as the Commons sits on the 19th. They would almost certainly pass of motion of no confidence and then we return to the previously mooted scenario of a temporary Prime Minister who would then go back to Brussels and ask for an extension beyond October 31st.

When that possibility was explored before MPs decided on legislation to block No Deal, Corbyn wanted that role for himself with the Liberal Democrats and Tory rebels preferring a less partisan option such as Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman (now hoping to succeed John Bercow as Speaker).

The Commons would have 14 days – although in this case 11 to avert a No Deal Brexit - to decide upon a PM who could command the confidence of the House and go to Buckingham Palace.

While so much can happen in the coming days and weeks, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Johnson is on borrowed time. There are a number of possible ends to his Premiership and he can't avoid them all. If he was to lose the Supreme Court appeal, he would have to resign. Defying Parliament by not requesting an extension almost certainly would see him lose his job.

A Murky Election Picture

In a General Election, with December 2019 the current favourite as far as date is concerned, it looks far from certain that a Brexit alliance (Conservatives and Nigel Farage's Brexit Party) would win enough seats for Johnson to stay on as PM and there is even a chance he could lose his seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

With Labour still vague on what they would campaign for in a General Election (they have at least committed to a second Referendum), it is too risky at this stage to predict how one would go. The Lib Dems have just come out unequivocally for revoking Article 50 and it will be interesting to see how that goes down with the public. In Scotland, the SNP could be set for big gains at the Tories' expense after Ruth Davidson's resignation.

The whole election picture looks pretty murky at present although this may become clearer in the coming weeks as the main parties hold their annual conferences. But, for now, the 6/4 with Ladbrokes about Boris Johnson being replaced as Prime Minister in 2019 looks a solid bet.


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