Is Q3 2007 heading for the favourite slot?
With every statement by Tony Blair being scrutinised closely for hints of his precise departure date the sentiment on the betting markets, as the chart shows, is moving from a Q2 exit to a departure in Q3 – between July and and September.
The latest snippet came at his monthly Downing Street press conference when he was asked if he would still be in charge at a crunch EU summit on June 21. His response: “Of course”. That takes it to within nine days of the start of July when the third quarter of 2007 begins which is critical to those betting. For it is in specific quarters that the Betfair market is structured. It is now 0.87/1 for Q2 and 1.22/1 for Q3.
It is thought that Blair’s announcement, whenever that comes, would state that he was stepping down as Labour leader and Prime Minister but that his resignation would only come into effect on a specific date. So this would be the timing of “when he would officially cease to be leader” – the precise terms of the Betfair market.
An exit then could really mess up Gordon Brown’s plans for the first phase of his time in office. There would be barely any time left before the summer vacation begins and his first encounters with David Cameron might not begin until after the conference season in October.
The last thing the Chancellor wants is to be taking over just as everybody is going on holiday.
Given what has gone on between the two men, particularly the rolling resignation plan last September, it is hardly surprising that Blair is not going to make it easy for his presumed successor. Why should he, you can certainly hear Cherie saying, in view of what Gordon did?
You have to ask whether even now Blair is still hoping that something might emerge that would stop Brown. Certainly the longer it goes on then the greater chance of something happening that might scupper the Chancellor. Yesterday’s high inflation figures are a case in point.
My betting has been to lay Q2 rather than bet for any other quarter. Anything could happen including the inquiry by Assistant Commissioner Yates which is still lingering on.