Whether you’re a fervent Remainer or a die-hard Brexiteer, you would have to accept that the uncertainty over Britain leaving the European Union is a bad thing for the economy. Businesses and organisations across every sector still don’t know whether they will face an orderly Brexit, a No Deal Brexit or no Brexit at all, which makes planning almost impossible.
But Brexit has had one upside for a particular sector of the economy. The expanding UK political gambling sector, which has historically had to cope with long periods of relative inactivity between elections, has been given a major boost by Brexit, and a quick glance over a typical UK bookie’s political betting section will show up an array of Brexit markets, some more serious than others.
In the less-serious category is the market entitled What Will The UK Government Officially Ration First In 2019. Speculation about the potential for rationing, particularly in the event of a No Deal Brexit, has rumbled on ever since the 2016 referendum, with Brexiteers claiming such talk is fearmongering, and Remainers predicting widespread shortages.
The issue has been made more complicated both by the Brexit uncertainty, which means that as many as a half of UK retailers have yet to make solid plans, and by the fact that the UK Government has been reluctant to release details of any plans for stockpiling or rationing, for fear that this might hamper their ability to negotiate a deal with the EU and free trade agreements outside the EU.
But none of that is particularly reassuring to the public. Top of the list of concerns appears to be fuel. An interruption to the UK fuel supply can play havoc across a number of industries, as was demonstrated in the 2000 fuel crisis and punters rate fuel the likeliest subject of government rationing in 2019, at 4/1, with milk (11/1), olive oil (16/1), bread (16/1) and cheese (18/1) regarded as the next most likely rationed items. There is better news for those with a sweet tooth, as Mars bars are rated the 150/1 outsider in this market, while Prosecco (125/1) supplies appear safe for the time being.