SBC Bookies Corner – Facing Reality…Brexit & Betting Markets

Having triggered Article 50, The UK enters a new political landscape as it negotiates its withdrawal from the European Union. Setting a two-year target for EU exit, Brexit has been labelled the most important UK political mandate of modern times.  

Fraught with risks and intriguing political contexts, SBC’s ‘Bookies Corner’ asks industry stakeholders how political betting markets will be impacted as Brexit becomes a reality.


Graham Sharpe – William Hill

SBC: Britain has to renegotiate its European relationship on trade, immigration, finance, laws, security. What makes bookmakers so sure that the UK will leave the EU by 2019?

Graham Sharpe (William Hill Politics): All the talk has been of a two-year process, and that remains the government’s target. Given that Article 50 was triggered relatively early in the year, 2019 is the obvious favourite, and where most of the money has gone.

However, as this is a unique situation no one can be absolutely sure whether it will take place speedily in order to get it ‘out of the way’ as it were, or whether the difficulties involved in getting agreements from the 20plus remaining members of the EU will slow progress down. So, it isn’t so much that we are ‘sure’ but that the ‘smart money’ is backing the 2019 option.

Matthew Shaddick – Ladbrokes

SBC: Has Brexit changed all political dynamics…is ‘Remain vs. Leave’ the new ‘Left vs Right’ of UK politics. If so, how does this impact market odds and research?

Matthew Shaddick (Ladbrokes, Head of Politics):
It’s certainly an important factor, but maybe not as dominating as some commentators claim.

For example, lets Take the Stoke-On-Central by-election. A very heavily pro-Leave seat, but UKIP did relatively poorly in there. Similarly, the Lib Dems have managed to do very well in some recent council by-elections in places which voted Leave.

Certainly, the Lib Dems can maybe expect to do better in the metropolitan areas that went for Remain. Labour are definitely in a tricky spot over the issue, but I’d say their problems are still more to do with the leadership in general.

Mirio Mella, Pinnacle

SBC: If PM Theresa May does not progress with Brexit negotiations in 2017, does May need to call for an early UK General Election?

Mirio Mella (Pinnacle, Head of Customer Engagement): Well, as with everything Brexit related ‘progress’ is very much a matter of opinion.

Certainly, if by the end of the year there isn’t clarity on the big issues such as the status of EU Nationals and a rough idea of the cost of the divorce, then the PM will face pressure to call an early election. That is notwithstanding all the unknown unknowns like the recent ructions over the Rock.

Of course, the electorate chooses a party, not a PM, but an election would essentially seek a vote of confidence in a manifesto which would largely be aBrexit negotiation plan.

An early General Election would also give punters another chance to see whether betting odds can accurately reflect the underlying probability of political markets after the damage done by the Brexit and Trump shocks.

Paddy Power

SBC: Who have been the political winners of Brexit (if any)…and how will they fair if an Election is called?

Paddy Power (Paddy Power Politics):  The big winner of Brexit other than our punters, was Theresa May! Not only was she catapulted from MP to PM by the referendum result, but she’s also found herself at the centre of a generation-defining process.

And it doesn’t look like she’s going anywhere – a Conservative Majority at the next election is heavily odds-on (8/13). However…I don’t know which is more cause for celebration – her huge career advancement, or having her legs feature on the front of the Daily Mail.


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