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Betting on politics: the Newport West by-election

The Independent Group is hogging the headlines, says Matthew Partridge. But for punters, the Newport West by-election offers a better bet.

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Umunna: not worth a bet

We've seen some massive changes in politics over the past week, with both Labour and Conservative MPs quitting their respective parties to join The Independent Group.

Surprisingly, none of the major bookies have launched any betting markets on it (with the exception of a short-lived bet about who will win Chuka Umunna's seat at the next election). The fact that it is a still a loose grouping, rather than a formal party, means that they would have to word any bet precisely to avoid any messy disputes.

Smarkets has tried to step into the breach by launching markets on the number of additional MPs who will defect to the group. However, the defection of the trio of Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston means the odds are likely to shift in the next few days, making any predictions irrelevant. There's also a market on whether any of the group will trigger by-elections, but with only £14 traded so far, it's not liquid enough for us to be worth commenting on.

Instead, I recommend a bet on the upcoming by-election in Newport West, prompted by the death of Paul Flynn. You can get 1.15 (87%) with Smarkets on Labour retaining the seat.

With the exception of a narrow Tory victory in 1983, this has been a solid Labour seat, with Flynn getting more than half the votes last time around. Given that in 2017 the Lib Dems came in fifth, behind both Plaid Cymru and Ukip, this constituency is unlikely to be receptive to any new centrist political grouping.I recommend betting on the Labour candidate.

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