Betting on politics: deal or no deal

Matthew Partridge looks at the bookies' odds on the UK leaving the EU with no deal.

Nigel Farage © Leon Neal/Getty Images

Nigel Farage © Leon Neal/Getty Images

It almost seems as if there have been more Brexit-related twists and turns in the last month than there have been in the entire period since the June 2016 referendum. Nothing illustrates this better than the perceived chance of a no-deal Brexit. Just a few weeks ago, many people believed that it was extremely likely. Now, thanks to the passage of the Benn bill through Parliament, instructing the government to ask for an extension to Article 50 unless a deal acceptable to Parliament can be passed through the House of Commons, it looks very unlikely.

Advertisement - Article continues below

These shifting perceptions have been reflected in Betfair's market on a no-deal scenario. At one point the implied chances of a no-deal Brexit were nearly 50%. They then plunged to a low of around 15%. With a total of £1.65m now matched on the outcome, punters clearly think that the UK leaving the EU without a deal is very unlikely, but still not impossible, and you can get 5.3 (18.9%) on a no-deal Brexit and 1.23 (81.3%) against. Nigel Farage no doubt has other ideas.

The lesson of the last three and a half years is that you can never, ever, rule anything out, but I think that the chances of a no-deal Brexit this year are less than 5%. So I'd advise you to take Betfair's 1.23 against the possibility of no-deal Brexit in 2019. As the rules of the bet make clear, this bet pays off if Britain fails to leave the EU before the end of the year or if a Withdrawal Agreement is agreed (and ratified) before Britain leaves.




Brexit begins: what do the UK and the EU want from a trade deal?

With Brexit now done, the trade talks can begin. But who wants what from a UK/EU trade deal, and how likely are they to get it?
3 Feb 2020

Trading: catch this coach company

Bus and coach operator National Express has expanded into promising markets abroad – and it looks cheap
28 Jan 2020
Investment strategy

How the fear of death affects our investment processes

Many of our investment decisions are driven by one simple fact: the knowledge that, one day, we will be dead. Here, in an extract from his new book, J…
2 Jan 2020

The good investments of the 2010s – and the bad

John Stepek takes a look back on which investments did well and which did badly in the decade that’s about to come to an end.
26 Dec 2019

Most Popular


These seven charts show exactly why you must own gold today

Covid-19 is accelerating many trends that were already in existence. The rising gold price is one such trend. These seven charts, says Dominic Frisby,…
3 Jun 2020

Disease, rioting and mass unemployment – so why are markets soaring?

Despite some pretty strong headwinds in the last year, America’s S&P 500 stock index is close to all-time highs. John Stepek explains why markets seem…
4 Jun 2020

This looks like the biggest opportunity in today’s markets

With low interest rates and constant money-printing, most assets have become expensive. But one major asset class hasn’t. John Stepek explains why com…
2 Jun 2020