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The Main Event
This year’s edition of the Great British summertime favourite was a closely fought contest between the two leading Conservatives, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. The first of these candidates had the advantage of high profile supporters in the form of the former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, and the former Foreign Secretary, Bernard Lewis. These two individuals publicly endorsed Johnson for the Conservative leadership. In return, their candidate received the backing of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper group, which publishes two significant newspapers in the UK, the Jewish News and the Western Jewish Mail. Hunt, on the other hand, was endorsed by the leader of the opposition, Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.
The debate was fierce and included several attacks on each candidate. The BBC has described it as a ‘tug of war’. This is perhaps an apt description as one of the major issues both candidates confronted was Brexit, or more specifically, the lack of progress made on this front since the referendum in June 2016. The debate moderator was the political journalist, Jessica Sefton, who has presented programmes for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. It is likely that TSB’s readership will appreciate her professional approach and impartiality.
TSB’s sportsbook was active during the entire course of the debate – a feat rarely achieved these days. This is likely because a significant amount of money was on offer, with the odds shifting rapidly throughout the evening. The two men were level headed and confident, which perhaps helped them establish a rapport with the audience. However, they did express some differences of opinion, which are highlighted below.
Boris Johnson is the current Mayor of London, having been re-elected earlier this year. This is a role he has held since 2008 and is set to run for the mayoralty a further four times. He is considered by many to be a leading contender for the Conservative Party’s next leadership election. He is known for his oratory skills and his ability to speak extemporaneously. This is perhaps why he is often referred to as ‘The Boris Johnson Hope’, an allusion to Winston Churchill’s celebrated ‘Never Despair’ speech. Johnson expressed optimism about Brexit despite acknowledging there were many stumbling blocks to be navigated. He also vowed to press on with Brexit negotiations, confident that a ‘no deal’ scenario was not an option if a good deal could be managed. Johnson has previously expressed scepticism about the value of a second referendum. The Mayor stated that “nobody was suggesting a second referendum, let’s get on with the job at hand”. He also pledged to serve his full four-year term.
Hunt, the current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, has held various portfolios in the Foreign Office, including that of leading the department from 2003-2005. He also previously served as the Mayor of London from 2008-2016. Hunt is widely expected to announce his candidacy for the Conservative Party leadership next month, challenging the current Prime Minister, Theresa May. The Foreign Secretary is a proponent of Brexit and has stated that “once we have left the EU, we should not look back”. He has previously voiced support for a second referendum and in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, has suggested that a ‘Plan B’ should be put in place.
What are the major takeaways from the debate?
(i) The main debates were won by the higher profile candidates. (ii) Both men did an excellent job laying out their position on Brexit with Jeremy Hunt appearing more conciliatory and offering to re-open negotiations, whereas Boris Johnson was much more aggressive in his stance. (iii) The audience clearly related to both men and felt they had to hold their hands up and admit there was ‘no easy way out’ of this situation. (iv) The two men did not disappoint with their oratory skills, further enhancing their rapport with the audience.
With the dust now settled from this year’s debate season, we want to highlight some post-debate analysis that can help shape your betting decisions in the months and even years to come.
The immediate economic impact of Brexit on the United Kingdom is far from clear. Nevertheless, some have suggested that a trade deal with the European Union could still be secured. Even if this were to happen, there is a significant amount of uncertainty surrounding the process and its duration.
The prevailing view among economic forecasters is that a ‘hard’ Brexit will have a significantly adverse impact on the UK economy. The Bank of England has cut its growth forecasts for this year and next, while the British Chambers of Commerce has predicted that unemployment could hit “record levels”. On the other hand, the Confederation of British Industry has argued that the “overwhelming majority” of businesses expect to see a “material economic impact” from leaving the EU.
It is difficult to understate the political impact of this year’s Brexit negotiations. The issue of Brexit dominated the entire year and will undoubtedly continue to influence UK politics for years to come. This is certainly the case for the rest of Europe, which has been forced to grapple with the uncertainty that has engulfed the talks. It is a far cry from the ‘Brexit’ that many at the time saw as a great British victory over the EU, which was supposed to herald the emergence of a ‘Trump UK’.
The two major parties, Conservatives and Labour, are set to contest the next general election, which will be held in December 2022. Several prominent Conservative politicians have confirmed they will be throwing their support behind Boris Johnson, the current Mayor of London, should he throw his hat into the ring. If Johnson does manage to secure the Conservative nomination, he will be favourite to win the election.
Boris Johnson’s candidacy has undoubtedly been bolstered by the presence of two Jewish Chronicle newspaper group supporters on the panel. The Mayor has previously stated “I am proud to have the support of the Jewish community and look forward to developing a strong relationship with the Jewish Chronicle”. We would be lying if we said this endorsement did not have an impact on our decision to open this article with a pun on Johnson’s name. We apologise in advance for any offence caused by this joke.
The Brexit issue will continue to shape our perceptions of politics and politicians for years to come. The longer that Brexit talks drag on, the more this becomes apparent.
To help navigate the Brexit crisis, we have compiled a list of essential questions that you should ask before placing a bet on whether or not Brexit will happen.
(1) How concerned are you about the possibility of a ‘hard’ or ‘firm’ Brexit? (2) What are your opinions of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt? (3) Do you think a second, or even a third referendum should take place? (4) Do you think the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, will survive as leader of the Conservative Party?
If you’re looking for a well-curated resource to help you make better-informed betting decisions, check out our in-house blog, which contains vital information about the state of play for Brexit and several other major international political issues. And if you’d like to stay in touch with TSB, you can do so via our social media accounts – @tsbcoffeegarage, @TSB_ClassicSports, and @TSB_Live. Alternatively, you can sign up to our newsletter, which features an article every couple of weeks on a completely different topic. We hope this article will help you make the right choice for you.