— Ladbrokes Politics (@LadPolitics) October 18, 2016
Ladbrokes report that betting on the Witney by-election is the highest ever for a by-election.
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) October 18, 2016
This by-election could be pivotal to the type of Brexit Mrs May’s government tries and obtains, and if she decides to hold an early general election.
If the Lib Dems do pull off a victory in Witney this Thursday the implications will be felt outside West Oxfordshire. It might determine the type of Brexit Mrs May’s government chooses to pursue, additionally with Theresa May transferring into Theresa Maybe over Heathrow expansion and becoming the second Tory Prime Minister this year to suspend collective cabinet responsibility the Tory majority of 12 looks incompatible with good, stable governance, though Mrs May’s approach as Prime Minister may also be exacerbating those problems.
Theresa May and her team must look at the opinion polls and think with the double digit leads she enjoys an early election is tempting. For the record, I expect a Tory hold with a fall in the Tory share of the vote, because
- i) It is a by election and we generally see swings against the sitting government in by-elections
- ii) David Cameron by virtue of first being party leader and then Prime Minister built up an impressive share of the vote, that should unwind as he is no longer the Tory candidate
Though I suspect many will try and spin it as a vote against ‘hard’ Brexit and Mrs May, though I thought it was a sign of Tory nervousness that both Mrs May and David Cameron campaigned in Witney last weekend, usually sitting Prime Ministers don’t go campaigning like this in by-elections.
Not since Oxford housed the King Charles I after his expulsion from London during the civil war has the politics of Oxfordshire been so important in a fractured country.