Almost three years on from the EU Referendum result, the UK seems no closer to leaving the European Union, but while the ongoing turmoil and uncertainty has generally been regarded as a negative, it has been good news for bookmakers offering political markets.
One of the most active has been the market offering punters the chance to bet on whether there will be a No Deal Brexit. Given the deadlock in Parliament that caused the UK to miss the original Brexit deadline of March 29, and the ongoing failure of Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to build a consensus around her Brexit deal, you might expect a No Deal Brexit to be a popular option with punters, but based on the current betting, that isn’t the case.
According to current bookmakers’ prices, those who want to back ‘Yes’ on the question of whether the UK will leave the EU without a deal before the end of the year, can get odds of as high as 7/2. The alternative, ‘No’ option, which includes another Article 50 extension, the UK leaving with a deal or a revoking of Article 50, is the big favourite and generally available at 1/5.
Although there appears to be considerable frustration among Leave voters who are preparing to vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in Thursday’s European elections, and some Brexit-favouring politicians have been prepared to publicly back a No Deal Brexit, among the population as a whole, those who express positive support for No Deal remain in a minority.
There is also the question of Parliament. Early on in the Brexit process, judges ruled that under UK law, Parliament has to have the final say on significant changes that will affect the people of the UK, and just about the only thing that Parliament agrees on is that a No Deal Brexit would be bad.
That combination of a lack of Parliamentary and public support for No Deal explains why shrewd political punters are not rushing to back the option, although whether that reality begins to shift after the European election results are in remains to be seen.