Four scenarios that could produce a snap general election

This piece was first published on February 28th 2019 for

Last month, I explained how Brexit – and the convoluted parliamentary process of delivering it – was generating countless political betting markets. With just 39 days until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, nobody is any clearer how or if it will happen at all.

All the markets or scenarios discussed are yet to fully play out. Despite warnings of chaos, shortages and economic ruin were the UK to leave without a deal, that is the default outcome unless the government acts to prevent it.

Bookies such as Paddy Power still rate ‘No Deal’ less likely than an undefined alternative, but the odds have shortened to 2/1. In contrast, a second referendum in 2019 is losing ground at 10/3. The favourite outcome is for Brexit to be delayed, via an official extension of the ‘Article 50’ process.

Such a delay is rated a mere 2/7 chance despite Prime Minister Theresa May consistently promising an on-time Brexit. It could come about because parliament eventually backs her deal but a short delay is required for ratification, or because parliament forces her to delay whilst alternative plans are explored.

All three of those bets are plausible, if highly uncertain, and will be settled soon. The only one that lasts beyond 29th March is a second referendum and that would need to be arranged in dubiously quick time to beat the 2019 deadline.

One alternative solution – even if equally uncertain to produce more clarity – is a snap general election. Indeed several reports suggest the governing Conservatives are preparing for one in June. Currently available at around 7/4 with Betfair to occur at any time in 2019, there are multiple ways in which it could come about.

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