As politicians, pundits and voters pick through the results of last week’s European elections, there are likely to be significant repercussions for the UK’s major parties.
For the Conservative party, the success of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which won most seats and around a third of the vote, poses an obvious existential threat at a General Election, and those candidates vying to take over from outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May will have to factor that threat into their calculations. After finishing third behind the Liberal Democrats, Labour Party members and MPs are likely to renew their push for their party to be openly pro-Remain, while the Liberals and Greens will be emboldened and can point to a combined vote that exceeded the Brexit Party’s total.
But while the political wrangling continues, the Brexit clock is still ticking. Parliament has until the end of October to come up with a plan, but with a Conservative leadership election and a possible General Election looming, the prospects of a Brexit breakthrough in the short term seem poor.
Those seeking clues as to what comes next could be interested in a new Brexit market, which offers punters the chance to bet on which of seven Brexit-related events will happen first. And the betting in the UK Next Steps – Brexit Outcomes market suggests that a deal by the end of October is unlikely.
According to bookmaker Smarkets, an extension of Article 50 beyond October 31 is the most likely outcome, at odds of 9/5. Remain supporters will be pleased to see Revoking Article 50 featuring prominently as the second favourite at 7/2, while a No Deal Brexit – which Parliament has repeatedly voted to rule out – can be backed at 4/1.
Other options include ‘UK To Set A Date For A Referendum On Brexit’ (24/5) and ‘UK To Set A Date For A General Election’ (28/5). And, perhaps reflecting the low estimation that punters and the public have of Parliament’s ability to work out a deal, the prospects of the UK leaving with the existing withdrawal agreement or a new agreement are quoted at 51/5 and 68/5 respectively.