Boris Johnson is not a man given to understatement, and the favourite to become the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister made more headlines on Thursday morning after giving his opinion on the chances of a No Deal Brexit in 2019.
Johnson was speaking at a Conservative Party hustings, one of a number of events at which he and rival leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt will be putting their cases to Tory members, who will ultimately choose the next Prime Minister. And his comments were clearly designed to reassure Tory Remainers that he was not set on a No Deal Brexit at all costs.
The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the current Prime Minister Theresa May has been rejected three times by the UK Parliament and with the extended deadline for the UK to leave the European Union set for the end of October, time is running out for an alternative plan to be devised.
While emphasising the importance of preparing for the possibility of a No Deal Brexit, Johnson assured his audience that he was confident of securing a new deal with the EU and put the odds of the UK leaving without a deal at ‘a million to one’.
But although the prospect of being able to back a No Deal Brexit at 1,000,000/1 might sound very appealing, sadly, bookmakers are taking a different view on the likelihood of such an outcome.
According to the current markets, Johnson is right to suggest that a No Deal Brexit is odds against. The current market on No Deal Brexit shows odds of 2/1 for Yes and 1/3 for all of the other potential options, which include leaving with a deal or the revocation of Article 50.
By contrast to those dabbling in the Brexit markets, punters who have backed Boris to be the next Conservative Party leader appear to be on firmer ground. Despite a wobbly weekend and widespread criticism, Johnson remains the overwhelming favourite in this market. His odds, having dropped from the 1/10 level to around the 1/5 mark, appear to have stabilised, while Jeremy Hunt’s momentum appears to have stalled. The Foreign Secretary is now backable at around 5/1, although with over three weeks of the campaign still to go, there is plenty of time for further market upheaval.