Data firm reports £500,000 staked on pro EU markets since the start of the year
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The odds on a fresh EU referendum have halved since the beginning of the year to just 2-1, bookies have revealed.
News of the fall comes in the wake of The Independent’s petition for a vote on the final deal smashing through the 250,000 signature mark.
At the start of 2018 punters were able to get 4-1 on that outcome. The odds had fallen to 3-1 prior to the Prime Minster’s Chequers summit, called to thrash out a negotiating position with cabinet ministers.
The plan that emerged from it prompted multiple ministerial resignations and has since been all but killed off by the EU, with its lead negotiator Michel Barnier ruling out its proposed customs arrangements. British ministers have fanned out around Europe in an attempt to sell the plan.
But Mr Barnier has been proven to have the backing of the leaders of the EU27.
This is what has led the odds to contract further, and according to betting data site bettingexpert.com, some 89 per cent of all bets placed in the referendum market since the start of June are on a second poll taking place.
Chuka Umunna and John Rentoul debate the possibility of another Brexit referendum
The data was released to The Independent just a day after bookmaker Paddy Power cut its odds on a second referendum to 9/4 from 3-1.
Betting exchange Betfair quotes a best available 2-1 for a poll to take place before 2020, with 11-1 available on it taking place before the end of this year.
However, it should be pointed out that bookies believe it is still unlikely to happen. Odds of 2-1 equate to a 33 per cent chance.
Should a second referendum get called, the odds of the UK voting to remain are also at record low of 1/8, with 4/1 offered on another Leave vote. That compares to 1/3 remain 2/1 leave at the start of the year, and 1/5 remain 3/1 leave before Chequers.
Paddy Power makes Remain the overwhelming favourite to succeed (1/7) with Leave the rank outsider (4/1) although the bookie opined that “we’ve heard that before”.
Overall, betting volumes on Britain remaining in the EU and a second referendum being called have hit their peak since 2016 — estimates suggest over £500,000 has been placed on a range of pro-EU markets since the start of 2018.
But punters have also heavily backed Britain crashing out with no deal amid reports of the government stockpiling food and drugs and preparing to close a motorway in Kent for the purposes of turning it into a huge lorry park.
In the deal or no-deal market, bookies now make the latter the 1/2 favourite, a huge tumble from the 5/2 at the beginning of the year. The UK is 5/2 to apply to rejoin the bloc by the end of 2027, assuming it quits.
Betting markets are viewed by some as more reliable than pollsters, because people’s willingness to stake money on a market shows how they really feel.
However, the bookies got the last referendum just as wrong as the pollsters did. The same was true during the US Presidential election that saw Donald Trump sweeping to power.
A bettingexpert.com spokesman said: “Political punters have never been more confident that a second referendum is on the cards. Should the rerun be called, the odds are firmly in favour of Britain performing a EU-turn and remaining.”
He added: “Regardless of the second referendum being called or not the betting markets are struggling to speak favourably for the PM and the money suggests the European question could bring her down one way or another pretty soon.”
A Paddy Power spokesman said: “After more than two years of careful negotiation and strategising, the best thing achieved by the Brexit process has been to remove David Cameron and Boris Johnson from positions of power.
“With virtually no opposition, the Prime Minister has been able to dilly-dally and perform prompt change of hearts regularly – so why wouldn’t she produce a EU-turn now?”