William Hague’s impending departure from the Commons has opened up a vacancy in one of the Tories’ safest constituencies in the country. So, we’ve opened up a market on who will be their candidate for the next general election.

The Daily Mail have speculated that Selina Scott could be in the frame. If Boris is to return to Westminster in 2015, he won’t find a safer seat, although being an MP for the Yorkshire Dales and Mayor of London simultaneously is going to be a hard sell. Wendy Morton and Robin Scott appear to be the most plausible candidates from the local party machine. If anyone has any other suggestions for likely candidates, feel free to post them here.

Constituency profile courtesy of UK Polling Report.

The Guardian’s Dave Hill has written today about the race to be Labour’s candidate for the 2016 London Mayoral election. He gives a very favourable mention to Sadiq Khan’s chances, but it is Dame Tessa Jowell who is now favourite to be Labour candidate and has also edged ahead of Boris in the outright betting

If Boris doesn’t stand again, which almost everyone is assuming, it’s quite hard to see how the Labour candidate isn’t going to become Mayor. Lord Coe would be an interesting runner, but he’s shown no sign of wanting to get back into politics. We’ve seen a bit of money for George Galloway at 25/1; I could just about imagine him making a run-off, but surely he wouldn’t win a second round against a competent Labour alternative.

As things stand, Sadiq Khan would be a very bad result for Ladbrokes, as he’s been backed down from 33/1.

BERLIN, GERMANY – APRIL 05: The former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker speaks at the CDU federal congress on April 5, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The CDU, which is the majority partner in a coalition government with the German Social Democrat, is meeting to agree on its policy course ahead of European Parliament elections scheduled for May. (Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images)

Has Jean Claude Juncker’s nomination pushed the UK nearer to an EU exit?

Maybe a little, but even so, it’s still fairly unlikely to happen during this decade. What are the odds?

First, we’d almost certainly need a referendum. Ladbrokes make that an odds-against chance before 2018, and if it hasn’t happened by then, it almost certainly won’t before the subsequent general election.

So, based on those odds, I am going to assign a 40% probability to a referendum happening.

Then, the UK population have to decide to vote to leave.

Let’s go with a 50% chance of a decision to exit. I don’t think that is a particularly generous assessment, given that it’s quite likely that the leadership of all the main parties will be campaigning for remaining a member. Most major business interests are likely to be on the same side.

So, taking just those two conditions together, we’ve got a probability of 0.4 x 0.5 = 0.2 i.e. 20%. Which is perhaps a little less likely than you might imagine had you been reading certain commentators in today’s papers.

 

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 26: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) and UKIP (UK Independence Party) leader Nigel Farage, hosted by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, take part in a debate over Britain’s future in the European Union, held at 8 Northumberland Avenue on March 26, 2014 in London, England. Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage will go head to head in the first of two debates about whether Britain should stay in the EU. (Photo by Ian West – WPA Pool / Getty Images)

 

Just over two years ago, Ladbrokes opened a market on which of UKIP and the Liberal Democrats would get most votes at the next general election. We made UKIP 5/1.  Today, for the first time, they are now favourites to out-poll the Lib Dems.

YouGov’s latest poll has UKIP ahead 14-8. Survation has it at an incredible 22-7.

There are many reasons for thinking that the Liberal Democrats will recover and UKIP drop down. But the lead that UKIP have had for many months shows no sign of diminishing right now.

Most people will scoff at the idea that the Liberal Democrats could win any new seats at next year’s general election. But, according to political punters, they have a few chances. Here are five of the most interesting possibilities:

1. Montgomeryshire. Conservative majority 1,184

In terms of the odds, this was the biggest shock result of the 2010 election, as the Tories wiped out a 7,000 Lib Dem majority. Perhaps this was not entirely unconnected to the identity of the sitting MP, Lembit Opik. Some are expecting a turnaround with a new candidate.

2. Watford. Conservative majority 1,425.

A desperately tight three way marginal; the Lib Dems easily retained the mayoralty last month. In Lord Ashcroft’s constituency specific polling, they were just 5 points behind the Tories.

3. Oxford West & Abingdon. Conservative majority 176.

Another relatively surprising loss in 2010, this seat will certainly still be a target for the Lib Dems, although the Ashcroft polling puts them 11 pts behind the Tories.

4. Ashfield. Labour majority 192.

It might seem extremely improbable that the Lib Dems could gain a Labour seat in the current circumstances but, if there is to be one, this could be it. The local party did an incredible job getting so close in 2010 and, based on the betting we’ve seen, have not given up hope here.

5. Maidstone & The Weald. Conservative majority 5,889

The least likely in our list, but Ladbrokes have seen money for the Lib Dems to oust sitting MP Helen Grant. She hasn’t been without her critics and the Lib Dem vote seems to have held up in local elections here.

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