The Article 50 Supreme Court case betting moves a notch to the government on the first morning – but still behind

December 5th, 2016


Whether you can read anything into this I doubt

If you’ve got lots of time on your hands you can watch the case live here.

The best comment so far is “OJ Simpson it ain’t”. This is all dry legal argument and will go on like this for most of the week. The verdict’s not expected until the new year.

Mike Smithson


As the A50 Supreme Court hearing starts YouGov finds just 46% having a favourable view of senior judges

December 5th, 2016


LEAVE voters give them a net negative

Yesterday Ipsos-MORI released its latest trust index and found that 81% saying that judges tell the truth. The fieldwork took place nearly a month ago.

In new YouGov polling asking about favourability a very different picture emerges as the chart above shows. This is based on fieldwork carried out in the middle of last week in the days before today’s start of the historic Article 50 Supreme Court hearing.

The split between the views of REMAIN and LEAVE voters is very striking highlighting the huge divide that had has existed since LEAVE won 51.89% of the votes on June 23rd.

I wonder what the next round of polling on judges favourability is going to look like.

Mike Smithson


Saved by der Bellen but what will the Italian referendum bring for the EU?

December 4th, 2016

Another polling failure? A bit harsh when polls are banned for the final fortnight

Latest Italian referendum betting




In the week the Article 50 case is heard before the Supreme Court, the public has more than three times the trust in judges than journalists

December 4th, 2016

Ipsos Mori have published their annual veracity index, with the Article 50 case being heard in the UK’s highest appellate court, it was amusing to contrast the trust in the enemies of the people judges compared to journalists.

Only Government ministers, and politicians in general are less trusted than journalists, whilst Estate Agents and Bankers have better trust ratings than journalists. This might explain why Nigel Farage’s planned 100,000 march on the Supreme Court turned out to be, as we say in Yorkshire, all fart and no follow through.

The fieldwork ended just before the High Court ruled against the Government in the Article 50 case, but a substantial part of the fieldwork was carried out whilst the High Court was hearing the case, but before headlines that described the judiciary as the enemies of the people.




Defection watch. Betting on Jacob Rees-Mogg to defect to UKIP

December 4th, 2016


Will Jacob Rees-Mogg defect to UKIP if Mrs May delivers a non-hard Brexit?

Paddy Power have a market up whether some politicians will defect by 2018. On initial glance this looks like a market designed to solely enrich Paddy Power, I did think of backing Douglas Carswell doing a Churchill and defecting back, but given the precedent he has set, he won’t wish to inflict another by election on the voters of Clacton, so that’s that bet ruled out.

But I do wonder whether backing Jacob Rees-Mogg at 12/1 is the way to go. He’s someone who I’d categorise as a supporter of Hard Brexit, a few weeks ago he said the UK should ‘go for a hard white and a runny yolk” on Brexit negotiations.*’

However this week it is looking like the government isn’t aiming for hard Brexit but a flaccid Brexit, with the arch Leaver and Secretary State for Exiting the European Union David Davis talking about a deal that sees the United Kingdom still paying money to the European Union even after we leave and a Trade minister openly talking about the United Kingdom remaining in the customs unions post Brexit, then below there’s this story on the front page of this morning’s Sunday Times.

If those are indicators of the likely Brexit deal, I suspect that won’t appeal to Jacob Rees-Mogg and he will try and do something drastic to stop such a deal and/or do something dramatic to express his displeasure. With Mrs May seeing her majority eroded, any recalcitrant Tory MP can imperil the continuation of the government quite easily, and defection is the most powerful option an MP can deploy.

In the past Rees-Mogg has said UKIP and the Tories are natural allies though he also memorably predicted that ‘Ken Clarke will convert to UKIP before I ever do’ all things considered, I’m going to have a small stake on Jacob Rees-Mogg defecting to UKIP by the end of 2018.


*Rees-Mogg went on to explain the “hard white” part stood for “absolute clarity we are leaving – no European court, no European law, control of our borders, out of the single market..”, and the runny yolk stood for being “as generous in the negotiations as possible”.


UKIP’s dreadful YouGov party favourability ratings now get even worse

December 3rd, 2016

Only the Tories see an improvement in their net ratings

The last time this polling was carried our was in August and since then a lot of things have happened. Note that the fieldwork for this latest polling took place on Tuesday and Wednesday so before the Richmond Park by-election.


In August what was then Farage’s party had 24%-62% Favourable-Unfavourable, a net minus 38%. That’s now minus 44%.


The August Tory figures were 34-53 so a net minus of 19%. That’s now down to -16% so an improvement of 3 points for TMay’s party.


The August polling took place during the leadership election and before Corbyn was re-elected. Then LAB was 28-56 a net minus of 28%. That’s now moved 29-59 a net minus of 30%


Farron’s party was 27-51 which has move to 29-55%


The SNP was 24-53 in August. That’s now moved to 22-57. So a change from a net minus 29% to minus 35%

Mike Smithson


UKIP has ceased to be a serious player and the BBC should stop pandering to them

December 3rd, 2016

Last night we had Radio 4’s Any Questions in town. It was a good evening except for the fact that there was no Lib Dem on the panel. Instead we had as well as the statutory LAB & CON rep an SNP MP and the barely coherent deputy UKIP leader, Peter Whittle.

You’d have thought that the BBC planners would have figured out that the Richmond by-election was taking place the day before and would likely feature a Lib Dem or made provisions just in case they had a good result. Without one on the panel they were unable to take direct questions on the election outcome.

Many were furious by this and the presence, yet again by the BBC, of a Kipper – a party that is struggling in all the elections it is fighting at the moment and didn’t even field a candidate in Richmond.

The chart above graphically illustrates how poorly UKIP has been doing in Westminster by elections this year. The BBC should take notice.

Mike Smithson


The chances of a 2017 general election have just increased

December 3rd, 2016


A smaller majority and greater Brexit pressure could force May’s hand

The Lib Dems have their mojo back. Their result in Witney was good but safe seat or not, second is the best-placed loser. It’s winning that counts and it was a win that was delivered in Richmond Park on Thursday. After more than ten years without a gain, the campaign surge, the tactical votes and the Friday celebration must come as a long-overdue reminder of the good old days – and possibly the good young days. That’s yet to be seen.

What it also does, in terms of raw maths, is reduce the notional Conservative majority to 8. True, Sinn Fein abstentions increase that a little and if put in a corner, votes might be won from Ulster and from Carswell (at a price, presumably), but what was already a tight situation just got tighter.

What the Richmond Park result shouldn’t do is panic the government. The by-election was an unusual contest in an unusual seat. Its dynamics are unlikely to be repeated and certainly wouldn’t be at a general election, where the government of the country is at stake. Even the scenario of a Con-LD battle in a heavily and passionately Remain seat is relatively rare. The idea that Richmond Park is somehow representative of a national anti-Brexit reaction is for the birds.

What we should take seriously is the prospect of a 2017 general election. The government is under pressure from the Commons, the Lords and the courts. Of these, the courts get first shot, next week. If the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the High Court then we’re in for a parliamentary battle to trigger Article 50 – or, more accurately, over the terms under which it’ll be triggered.

For all Olney vowed to oppose the Brexit process even beginning, the reality is that the 9 Lib Dem MPs are irrelevant to that end. The Commons will vote Article 50 through if that’s what’s needed. They might not, however, do so in a way that gives the government the blank sheet it’d like. Any Bill can be amended and you can well see Remain MPs trying to alter it so as to, for example, mandate the government to stay within the Single Market.

In all probability, the Commons would fail on that score. Labour isn’t sufficiently united and there won’t be enough Tory rebels.

What it also won’t do is legislate for a second referendum because unlike in the message going out to the electorate, MPs know that a second referendum would be a fraud. There would be no ‘Remain’ and no ‘try again’ option; the choices would be the Brexit deal as negotiated or a chaotic exit – which is not really any choice at all. That’s why it’s so important to those who want to make Brexit as Light as possible (or to frustrate it entirely) to tie the government’s hands before negotiations get going.

But if the Commons isn’t that much of a concern to the government, the Lords might be. Emboldened by the Richmond Park result and already looking for an excuse to both give the government a bloody nose and minimise the effect of Brexit, Lib Dem peers might well do what the Commons couldn’t and, together with their Labour colleagues, some cross-benchers and perhaps even some Tory rebels, attach conditions the government cannot live with. And while they’d be on extremely sticky ground opposing Article 50, amending the legislation is a different matter; that’s one thing the Lords is there for.

If the Bill does come back down the corridor to the Commons with a series of directives to the government contained within it, that puts Theresa May in an awkward situation. Moral pressure might prove effective after the Lords have made a token stand but if Labour and Lib Dem peers feel that the public mood has changed, they could dig their heels in, knowing that the Parliament Act couldn’t be invoked for another 12 months, by when the Brexit Date would be pushing the 2020 general election.

So the alternative is to force an election on the specifics of Brexit. That does of course mean putting at least some kind of plan forward and it’s clear that right now, the government is some way from being able to do that. But whether to the country or to the House, it will at some point before too long need to say more about what its objectives are.

Can an election be forced given the FTPA? The simple answer is yes. The first and best option is to put a motion down and dare the other MPs to vote it down. The reserve plan is, if the dissolution motion fails, to force a No Confidence vote and ensure no new government can form. Once that’s happened, an election follows two weeks later.

On the low politics angle, there would no doubt be advice going to Mrs May to the extent that it’d be sensible to capitalise on the big poll leads while she can and while Corbyn is still in place. Neither can be guaranteed for 2020 but the opportunity to ditch him before May 2017 will be limited in the extreme.

At the moment, the odds on offer for a 2017 election vary widely, from evens with bet365 to 9/4 with 188bet. Evens is too short but anything top side of 6/4 probably contains some value.

David Herdson