The US presidential election, in which Joe Biden became the projected winner on Saturday, has been the biggest betting event of all time. But while we were glued to the markets on the race for the White House, between Donald Trump and Biden, there were some interesting moves in the latest UK politics odds.
Johnson backed to leave next year
When it comes to Boris Johnson’s exit dates, 2021 2.6413/8 is the new favourite while the price on him continuing as leader of the Conservative Party until 2024 or beyond has drifted to 2.747/4.
The tight odds on those contrasting outcomes – there’s little interest in 2022 7.26/1 or 2023 8.07/1 – illustrate that, even amid hopes of more stability across the Atlantic, British politics is likely to remain an unpredictable beast for some time yet.
The odds on the Tories winning a majority at the next general election are out to 3.39/4 while you can get 3.65 on Labour. The Tories have an 80-seat majority, which they won last December, so it’s remarkable to see another hung parliament at 2.26/5.
This weekend a poll from Opinium put Labour four points ahead of the Tories, indicating that the one from YouGov on Friday, which gave the opposition a five point lead, was no outlier. These are arguably the most compelling signs yet that Labour under Keir Starmer are making inroads into the Tories’ popularity.
Westminster voting intention:
LAB: 40% (+2)
CON: 35% (-3)
LDEM: 7% (+1)
? Britain Elects (@BritainElects) November 6, 2020
Could the Biden presidency make life harder for Johnson’s government? There’s been speculation about this ever since Biden pulled ahead of Trump in the betting.
The UK probably won’t be top of the new American administration’s list of priorities, although there will be plenty of consensus, on climate change, for example, and cooperation over cyber-security. All UK and US governments find common ground.
But one of Biden’s priorities will be to rebuild the US’s bridges with the EU. Trump was hostile towards Brussels, relished Brexit and disliked Angela Merkel. As politicians with decades of experience at the top of world politics, you’d expect the German chancellor and former-US vice president to get on.
In 2016, as vice-president, Biden and his boss Barack Obama were clear that they hoped Britain would reject Brexit. More recently, Biden said his administration would not do a trade deal with the UK if the Good Friday Agreement were a casualty of Brexit.
Change in the weather?
This weekend there’s a palpable sense of relief among liberals and some leftists who hope Biden’s victory signals a change in the political weather.
It looks likely that, when the final tallies are confirmed, Trump will have received more votes in 2020 than in 2016, so Trumpism cannot be consigned to the dustbin of history just yet.
That said, the Democrats’ success in limiting Trump to a single term is what matters right now.
Johnson and his adviser Dominic Cummings followed Trump’s strategies for winning elections. They now need to decide whether they should, or indeed can, rethink their way of operating.
Labour, meanwhile, will seize on Biden’s success as a sign that they’re moving in the right direction.
Biden was few people’s idea of an inspiring candidate but, out of the wreckage of four years ago, he emerged as the one who could win back working class voters from a right-wing charlatan who only pretended to represent their interests. Starmer’s path to election victory could follow a similar course.
Starmer has already pitched himself as the slow and steady voice of the centre-left, as he bids to win back Labour’s Red Wall at the next election. Biden’s success surely means we’ll see more of the same from the Labour leader.
This morning, David Lammy (above) talked up Labour and the US Democrats as “sister parties”. He’ll be hoping that, as in the 1990s, a Democrat victory is followed a few years later by a Labour win.
The next UK general election is 1.4640/85 to take place in 2024, six months before the next US presidential election, so that’ll be quite a year.