- Brexit, Boris Johnson and Scotland: politics betting for 2021 with the best tips and odds
- Where does Boris Johnson go next?
- Rishi Sunak, the next man in line or is it Sir Keir Starmer?
- Sadiq Khan set for a second stint as London mayor
- Will Scotland get a second independence vote?
- America hoping for a quiet year
- Now read
- Donald Trump goes to Watford: what happens when US presidents enter British elections
- Using the special relationship
- A liability for Johnson
Brexit, Boris Johnson and Scotland: politics betting for 2021 with the best tips and odds
If a week in politics is a long time, then just how extensive has the last 12 months been? Politics is constantly in flux, but 2020 has caused great change and drama in the world of Westminster, the White House and beyond.
From Dominic Cummings to Joe Biden, politics has once again touched the lives of us all and there’s no way of knowing how dramatic 2021 promises to be, with questions over the longevity of Boris Johnson and the possibility of another Scottish referendum.
The GQ bookie has looked into the crystal ball to see what we can expect from the ever-changing world of politics in 2021.
Where does Boris Johnson go next?
Having battled with questions about his leadership, senior advisors and the coronavirus, Boris Johnson has not had the 2020 he hoped for when he won an 80-seat majority 12 months ago.
Along with governing the country during a global pandemic, the prime minister is also having to contend with the small matter of Brexit.
Few have been able to side with him on this, but a deal is in sight – at time of writing, anyway – to take some of the pressure off his back.
There’s therefore little sign of Johnson giving up the keys to Number Ten any time soon and he is 1/2 with Betfair to be replaced as prime minister in 2022 or later, but if you fancy Johnson picking up his P45 from Downing Street in 2021, that is available at 7/5.
For those with election fatigue, you’ll be relieved to hear that a general election taking place next year is highly unly. A vote in 2021 is 18/1, with 2024 or later 2/5, while 2022 is 9/1 and 2023 is 5/1.
Rishi Sunak, the next man in line or is it Sir Keir Starmer?
One man whose handling of the pandemic has been praised is chancellor Rishi Sunak.
His myriad reforms in an attempt to ease the financial strain on the country have been met with support and that has also seen him naturally develop into a potential successor for Johnson.
This notion is supported by the betting, with Sunak currently heading the markets at 21/10 to be the next leader of the Conservative Party, ahead of Michael Gove (6/1) and Jeremy Hunt (7/1).
An immediate succession is not ly, as Sunak is 5/2 to be prime minister before the end of 2021, with Gove 5/1 in the same market.
Interestingly, with a general election set for 2024, a Conservative or Labour majority is the 2/1 market leader to be successful, highlighting the chasm, but also questions that remain in British politics at present.
For Starmer, he has offered Labour party voters and supporters a clear change from the policy mindset of his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, and having positioned himself on the centre ground he is currently the 7/4 favourite to be the next prime minister after Johnson. Much will depend on whether support and trust in the job done by Johnson and his cabinet continue to decline as the next election approaches, but Starmer currently looks well placed if also able to maintain the unity of his own party.
Sadiq Khan set for a second stint as London mayor
The London mayoral elections will take centre-stage 2021, with Labour candidate and current mayor Sadiq Khan a solid 1/7 favourite to continue to hold the post he has held since 2016.
Khan has been responsible for creating policies such as the Hopper Fare the Night Tube and the Ultra Low Emissions Zone.
His Conservative rival is Shaun Bailey, who formerly served as a special advisor to David Cameron but is third in the market at 9/1.
Khan’s main rival, therefore, looks to be Brian Rose at 4/1. A former banker, Rose is the founder, host and CEO of London Real, a podcast and channel that has nearly two million subscribers.
His plans include using science-based decisions when it comes to setting policy and removing all on-street parking in central London and replacing it with green spaces.
It sounds pleasant but it is hard to see him surpassing Mr Khan in the vote.
Will Scotland get a second independence vote?
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom in 2014, with the country voting against becoming independent.
However, given the rise of the Scottish National Party, coupled with criticism over Brexit, a concerted drive for Johnson to give the Scottish people a second referendum is well underway.
As for the betting, Betfair currently has Scotland to stay in the UK as the 8/11 favourite, with the country to leave evens.
Despite this desire for another referendum vote, the timing of when this will take place still remains distant. It is 1/25 that the next Scottish independence referendum will take place in 2022 or later, with a referendum in 2021 a 6/1 possibility.
America hoping for a quiet year
Twenty twenty was quite the year in US politics. As a result of an election that will be remembered for generations to come, Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States in January and he is currently the 4/1 favourite to win the 2024 election, with incoming vice-president Kamala Harris 5/1 and outgoing president Donald Trump 8/1.
Elsewhere, Italy are 3/1 favourites to follow in the UK’s footsteps and become the next country to leave the European Union.
As we’ve found out this year, it would be foolish to rule out anything in politics.
Odds correct at the time of writing. For the latest prices on politics, visit Betfair. 18+ please gamble responsibly.
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Donald Trump goes to Watford: what happens when US presidents enter British elections
Foreign affairs rarely play a role in British elections. The exception, of course, is Europe: both Labour in 1974 and the Conservatives in 2015 won a narrow parliamentary majority after promising a referendum on UK membership.
For reasons of practicality and protocol, elections are usually scheduled to avoid summits, or the visits of foreign leaders.
But nothing is normal any more and 2019’s rushed general election features the first visit of a US president to Watford, an unprepossessing commuter town north of London.
Donald Trump flew into the UK on December 2 for a two-day visit to attend a meeting of NATO leaders marking the 70th anniversary of the alliance.
One of the many curiosities of our age is that this most unpopular US president for the British should come so often. Another is that Boris Johnson, a US-born, Atlanticist prime minister, earnestly wishes the leader of the free world was not in the UK. At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn, a very-far-from Atlanticist leader of the opposition, is delighted that he should be.
Using the special relationship
The Foreign Office may be the second most prestigious office of state, but in elections, foreign secretaries or their shadows from the opposition seldom find themselves much called on. Defence has had an impact though, such as in 1983 and 1987 when Labour was portrayed as too pacifistic, and in 2005, when the party wished they had been so.
Those episodes revolved around the special relationship between the US and UK – and prime ministers have not been averse to the blandishments of presidents on pre-election visits to the US, such as Harold Macmillan in 1959, and David Cameron in 2015.
Presidents have been prepared to assist in other ways, as I’ve been examining in my research on the historical relationships between US presidents and British premiers. Ronald Reagan’s humiliation of Labour leader Neil Kinnock in 1987 calculatedly bolstered the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher. But there has never been a presidential visit during a general election before now.
Part of the appeal of the Leave campaign in the EU referendum was Britain going out into the world and making more of its historic ties with what Winston Churchill called “English-speaking peoples”.
This overlooked the fact that every American president since Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s has wanted Britain to lead in Europe because it enhanced US interests to have its closest ally at the centre of what became the world’s largest trading bloc.
The exception, as ever, is President Trump.
The special relationship has weakened in the topsy-turvy political world since 2015 – the year Corbyn became Labour leader, Trump announced his presidential candidacy and the British parliament passed legislation to hold a referendum on EU membership. In April 2016 Barack Obama – the most popular recent American president for the British public – visited the UK at the invitation of the prime minister, David Cameron, to assist with the increasingly panicked Remain campaign.
At the personal request of Cameron, Obama told the world that in the event of Brexit, Britain would be at “the back of the queue” for a trade deal. His intervention backfired, reinforcing the Leave narrative of a remote and condescending elite – and Remain never recovered.
Always keen to present himself in opposition to Obama, Trump has pushed his own anti-establishment narrative, which extended to condemnation of transnational institutions including NATO and the EU.
In offering the promise of a free trade agreement to the UK, Trump has presented himself as a champion of self-government and so of Brexit, responsibility for which he characteristically ascribed to himself.
As if that were not a sufficient transgression of diplomatic norms, Trump also suggested in 2016 that Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, should be appointed British ambassador to the US.
An awkward visit to Chequers in 2018. Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive
More seriously, his relationship with Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, was quite un that of any other president and prime minister, as I’ve examined in forthcoming research.
Standing alongside May in 2018 and 2019, Trump embarrassed her, and breaking with any sense of protocol or propriety, also praised the person clearly positioning himself to replace her – who, shortly thereafter, did just that.
US presidents have attended NATO summits in the UK before – Jimmy Carter in 1977, George HW Bush in 1990, and Obama in 2014. But Trump’s attitudes towards NATO were originally the principal source of British consternation at his election.
It wasn’t known then that he wasn’t a man of settled policies. In three years he has moved from being NATO’s most prominent critic, to its staunchest defender in the face of criticism of the alliance by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
A liability for Johnson
It would never have been necessary with any other president, but on this December visit Trump has done as requested – he has observed convention and said he would “stay the election”. Except that, insofar as he flagrantly contradicted something he said the last time he was in the UK in the express interest of the prime minister, he has not stayed British politics.
Significantly, the impact of Trump’s visit to the UK is on a domestic policy area that is, by contrast, always central to elections: the National Health Service.
In a campaign characterised on all sides by millions of this, billions of that, and trillions of the other, Labour has persistently claimed there will be a US-imposed increase in the NHS drugs bill of £500m a week.
NHS staff duly joined the now-traditional public protests that mark a Trump visit.
Trump and Johnson: keeping their distance. Yui Mok/PA Wire
If Trump was ever an asset for Johnson, he’s now deemed a liability. The president sees something of himself in man he’s called “Britain Trump”, not least perhaps their at times disarming physical resemblance.
But given British public attitudes to Trump, it’s prudent for Johnson to maintain distance during the last week of a tight election. Trump’s toxicity has the potential to poison Johnson’s hitherto effective campaign.
So after much speculation as to whether they would meet – itself extraordinary – Johnson and Trump did, but, equally extraordinarily, there were no photographs of the host and his guest at that meeting at Number 10 or at a Buckingham Palace reception. The two were eventually photographed together arriving at The Grove, the venue for the NATO leaders summit in Watford.
By contrast, Corbyn has wanted nothing more than the chance to be photographed challenging Trump on the NHS – though it emerged they did not meet at the palace. But not on NATO. On which they agree. A voter could be forgiven for being confused.
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