Betting on politics: Brexit bets

Theresa May © Getty images
Theresa May: a tough time over Brexit

Let’s take a look at the various Brexit-related bets available in the market, in the light of the recent parliamentary vote. On Smarkets, punters have wagered £112,305 on the date which the UK will officially leave the EU. As you’d expect, an exit by the end of April is the favourite, but you can still get 2.9 (34.4%) on that date. Interestingly, the next favourite is not before 2021 at 4.3 (23.2%), suggesting that punters think there’s a good chance Brexit might not happen.

Still, if the major betting exchanges aren’t confident Brexit will occur on schedule, punters are much more certain that Theresa May’s position is secure, at least for the next few weeks. There has been a flurry of activity on whether the prime minister will leave office before Brexit in the past few days, with £175,800 bet on Betfair alone. However, after briefly becoming favourite to leave office first, the odds are 1.46 (68.4%) on her staying in Downing Street until Brexit is complete.

Interestingly, when May does leave, Michael Gove’s vocal support for the Withdrawal Agreement hasn’t done him any harm, since he is now the favourite on Betfair to replace her. But it’s a very fragmented field, with Gove at 6 (16.7%), Boris Johnson at 7.6 (13.2%), Sajid Javid at 9.8 (10.2%) and Dominic Raab at 10.5 (9.7%). The days when Jacob Rees-Mogg was considered the favourite for the Conservative leadership are well and truly over however – the MP for North East Somerset is now out in eighth place at 32 (3.1%).