Days after the cabinet was said to be united around Theresa May’s Brexit plans, the Conservative government has all but fallen apart. Even the projectors have stopped working. And according to bookmakers across the country, a 2018 general election is looking much more likely.
Bookies have slashed the odds on there being a general election in 2018. Sites such as William Hill and Sky Bet now have this year as the most likely for another vote to be held.
In Westminster, insiders are describing scenes of disarray after a manic 24 hours where David Davis and Boris Johnson both left the cabinet.
In a bid to get cross-party support, Brexit meetings were organised by the Conservatives on 9 July. But Guardian journalist Jessica Elgot said Labour MPs left the meeting describing a picture reminiscent of political comedy The Thick of It:
Labour MP comes out of the briefing. “Most surreal meeting ever. They are presenting a deal which is collapsing in front of our eyes. The projector doesn’t work. All anyone is talking about is Boris. It’s like the fucking Thick of It.”
— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) July 9, 2018
And Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer tweeted about division within the “heart” of government:
Four hours later, Boris Johnson goes. Division & chaos at the heart of govt. https://t.co/qr71HAo77x
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) July 9, 2018
Calls for a general election
The flurry of resignations has sparked questions of leadership contests and snap general elections. And many Labour supporters have been calling for just that:
Boris Johnson’s resignation may well sink the Tories. This is a Prime Minister with no control, she can’t be trusted with Brexit, we need a general election, and we need one now. #GE2018Now #PeoplesElection
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) July 9, 2018
David Davis has resigned. Spare us weeks of this coalition of chaos falling to pieces – and give us a general election.
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) July 8, 2018
One bookmaker now has the odds on a 2018 general election at just 11/8. It’s 9/4 for the government to make it through to 2022 or later without a vote.
Odds on the largest party after any such election are even tighter. The Conservatives remain marginally ahead at 4/5, while the odds on Labour are evens.
Despite the atmosphere of “chaos”, leading Tories are already squashing ideas of a general or leadership elections.
Speaking on the BBC, former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said it was a time for calm, not for a leadership contest:
— Rachel Kennedy (@rachelkennedy84) July 9, 2018
But not everyone took Grant Shapps’s message on board:
DON'T WORRY . KEEP CALM . Grant Shapps on BBC to reassure us all. How fucking comforting.
— Steve Scott (@scott_steve) July 9, 2018
It hasn’t been doom and gloom for all though. Some England football supporters are already looking on the bright side:
1966 – Tory crisis after Labour general election landslide. England team succeeds.
1990 – Tory crisis after Thatcher ousted as leader. England team succeeds.
1996 – Tory crisis as Major crumbles. England team succeeds.
2018 – Tory crisis over Brexit. England team succeeds.
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) July 9, 2018
But the government is descending into meltdown at unprecedented speed. And it remains to be seen if more ministers will follow Johnson and Davis out of the cabinet.
What is certain is that May has been dealt a massive blow. As for a general election – well, the bookmakers are rarely wrong.
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