Betting on politics: will a Brexit deal be approved in 2018?

Theresa May © Getty images
Theresa May is running out of time

Last week we noted that Paddy Power was offering 1/4 (80%) on Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement being voted down on 11 December. Since then the ground seems to have shifted further away from the prime minister thanks to the ongoing controversy over the publication of the full legal advice on the deal, and the loss of three House of Commons votes. As a result, it is not surprising Paddy Power has withdrawn its market on the 11 December vote.

Instead, Paddy Power has now shifted its focus onto whether a deal will be approved in 2018 at all. Specifically, you can get 1/7 (87.5%) on a deal not being passed this year and 4/1 (20%) on a deal being passed. Not to be outdone, Betfair is running a similar market with slightly better odds of 1.17 (85.4%) on no approval this year and 6.2 (16.1%) on a deal being approved. If you just want to bet on the outcome of the 11 December vote, Ladbrokes is offering 1/8 (89%) on the deal not being passed.

It’s generally a good idea to avoid short odds unless you are extremely confident of the outcome. However, I just can’t see how May (pictured) can get the deal through Parliament, either now or in the remaining weeks of the year. I’m also sceptical about the idea that the failure of the deal will cause a financial meltdown that will push parliament into changing its mind. So I’d bet on both the 11 December vote failing with Ladbrokes, and no approval in 2018 with Betfair.