It's still hard to believe that the gamble taken on voting for Brexit happened on June 23, 2016. As the end of 2017 draws close, bureaucracy may have slowed down the process of divorcing from the European Union. But it's also helped to fuel a flood of Brexit betting with online bookmakers such as Paddy Power. With crucial meetings set to happen before the end of the year, now's the time to consider placing some astute political wagers!
The red tape that the European Union is infamous for needs to be considered from a political betting perspective. Any hope of a simple Brexit deal was naive. Therefore, the slow rate of progress of the Brexit negotiations and the innate infrastructure of the EU are not indicative of a fast deal – making Paddy Power's odds of 13/8 for no Brexit deal before April 1, 2019, appealing.
The potential astuteness of the bet is backed up by the current EU negotiations, led by British Prime Minister Theresa May. Having had an initial severance package rejected by the European Parliament, Mrs May is expected to head back to Brussels between December 14 and 15, 2017, to propose a £40 billion deal to EU leaders.
Should Brussels agree in principle, then the Brexit process will start to look brighter for her. However, even if the PM gets a green light, there is still a huge amount of work to be done before the UK comes close to a full Brexit package. Before we know it, the political betting world will be mid-way through 2018 with EU negotiations still ongoing.
Should the EU refuse Mrs May's offer in December, then Brexit negotiations and the Conservative party could be thrown into chaos. This situation could have multiple implications – including leadership battles, revised Brexit discussions in parliament and even a General Election in 2018. Ultimately, if Brexit talks aren't productive in mid-December, then those 13/8 odds would leave backers in a strong position.
While the Prime Minister may be forced to quit her role if Brexit talks stall, don't expect her to give up on leaving the EU. Paddy Power is offering odds of 50/1 on Mrs May performing a Brexit U-turn in 2017. The online bookmaker is less confident about her not still being PM when the UK leaves the EU, with odds of 2/1 to still be at Number 10 Downing Street when the UK leaves Europe.
Brexit has caused a crisis in British politics – seemingly splitting the nation on both a political and social level. While politicians such as William Hague suggest that holding a second referendum would be undemocratic, others such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan support the chance for the country to vote again if Mrs May can’t win over parliament.
The most likely situation in which a second referendum would take place would be Mrs May losing a leadership battle, leading to a General Election in which Labour's Jeremy Corbyn would be likely to hold a strong hand with remainers. The chances of Mrs May losing her position as PM over the next year are legitimate, however there is still some doubt about whether a new leader such as Mr Corbyn would instigate a referendum.
Paddy Power seemingly thinks that Mrs May stepping down as PM and another leader negotiating with Brussels is a strong possibility, but the odds of it happening before April 1, 2019, don't hold much value as a single bet, currently priced at 4/11. Brexit betting, just like the process itself, is a conundrum.
However, what we do know is that the bureaucracy of the EU and the lack of a defined exit process have already seen time slip by, without significant progress. Even if Mrs May's next trip to Brussels is successful, it will leave the UK a long way off finalising a deal. And with political uncertainty in the UK, nothing looks set to go very smoothly during 2018's political season!