Brexit Crisis – Scenario Mapping

Theresa May’s Brexit plan is dead. It is not resting. It is not pining for the fjords. It is dead.

May may not think so. But it is. So, what happens next?

There are maybe five plausible scenarios for the Brexit deal/outcome.

  1. Remain
  2. No Deal
  3. Canada ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
  4. EEA
  5. May Deal

Remain makes up around 25% of the House of Commons and is only likely to grow if the choice is between that and No Deal. It is currently unclear if the UK can unilaterally revoke A50, I imagine the EU being what it is, they’ll make the law up as they go along and say that of course you can unilaterally revoke A50 but it also removes various UK exemptions from EU policy and the rebate.

No deal probably makes up around 5% of the House of Commons but bleeds into Canada +++++ or whatever it’s called which is probably 15% of the House. No Dealers would be happy with Canada and Canada people could probably live with No Deal.

EEA is currently backed by relatively few but could be backed by a broad swathe of the House if it were put forward as an option.

May’s deal is currently backed by maybe 30% of the House when you take account of the people who just want it done and the payroll vote.

There is almost certain to be a leadership challenge. If May falls then the May deal is either replaced with something else or moves to one of the other four.

If May doesn’t fall, she is safe for a year, she can then use her position to make the deal more Remainy to make it more palatable to Labour, but does this just lose her votes across the aisle in the Tory party? Does it just destroy the Tory party?

I think May survives a leadership challenge. She needs 158 votes of confidence. I reckon there’s a big enough “eugh, just get on with it you tossers” contingent to back her. I then reckon her deal fails to get past the House. Which means we’ve wasted a month in having it rejected by the House, and we’re back to four options. She could resign then, but she’s likely to want to press on. She has to either move on immigration, which opens up the path to Remain (still very unlikely) or EEA. But because she’s an immigration obsessive this is doubtful. She could move on Northern Ireland and go for Canada but this requires abandoning any sense of being a unionist party and would break the party just as much as Remain. So No Deal then becomes the default.

I hope May is ditched. I hope we go for the EEA option. But I think we’re far more likely to end up with a variant on No Deal.

The Pain Will Never Be Over

The oil industry has suffered over the past three years. Since the fall in oil prices in 2014 companies have gone bust, tens of thousands have lost their jobs, and hundreds of billions of dollars in spending has been delayed or cancelled.

Oil companies can be profitable again. Oil service contractors too. But the good times aren’t ever coming back.


The world is currently investing over US$250bn/yr in renewables. This compares to US$450bn/yr in oil and gas (I can’t find a source for coal). But the thing is – every penny invested in renewables eats the cake of oil and gas. With every new turbine installed part of a hydrocarbon fueled power station is replaced. With every solar panel installed, demand for hydrocarbons falls – and by more than the total installed power of the unit.

  1. The virtuous circle – efficiency increases throughout the chain
    1. The efficiency of solar panels and wind turbines increases, with more power captured per unit time
    2. Installation gets more efficient as best practise is adopted
    3. More installers move into the market and lower installation costs (a particular issue in the offshore wind sector where oil and gas service companies who previously ignored the market move in and professionalise the industry)
    4. More infrastructure installed means it’s easier to install the next marginal bit of infrastructure – you may need to install a second power line or upgrade a substation but it still requires much less investment
  2. Renewables go direct to energy – with hydrocarbons you have to find it, dig it up, ship it (likely several times) maybe refine it, and then eventually you can burn it to turn it into electricity. Renewables go direct, cutting out the transportation energy, cutting out the refining costs and pumping costs. So the total factor efficiency of renewables is actually measured far higher than hydrocarbons
  3. No one goes from an EV to IC – people who buy into EV buy into it for good. Petrol stations lose customers for good with every person who switches away from internal combustion engines – so if 10% of cars sold are EV in any one year, there’s every year of growth in EV behind that where those people may buy a car once every 5-10 years, but they’re not buying IC-engined cars.
  4. Storage – sorted. Everyone knows the issue with renewables nowadays is the ability to store energy. Something we are rapidly solving. And every day, as more and more electric vehicles are sold, we get closer to solving it. Part of the solution is going to come through using batteries that were once installed in a car for renewables storage. The cycle on a battery degrades it over time to the point where you eventually need to replace it to make the car efficient enough to be worthwhile once again. Those batteries that are replaced are still a valuable resource when it comes to storing energy.
  5. Autonomy – autonomous cars are going to be EV. And with autonomous cars the entire ownership model for cars changes, the number of cars needed falls (eating some more cake in the form of energy required for the heavy industry of car manufacturing)

The fossil fuel industry will still be around, for decades to come. Aviation and shipping will still use oil and gas. And heavy industry needs the heat intensity that you get from hydrocarbons, hydrocarbons are more efficient at this. Petrochemicals will become ever more important to the world as our population continues to grow. But when people talk about a supply gap of 10s of millions of barrels a day caused by declining production in the major producing fields globally – they fail to realise that renewables, through pricing power more than anything else now, are drinking their milkshake – not draining the fields. But ensuring it’s not worth pulling it out of the ground at all.

The stupidest thing you can do with oil is burn it

Nature gave us these incredible long-chain hydrocarbons, something that takes huge amounts of energy to create. Reworking those long chains into plastics and chemicals and a hundred other uses is the intelligent way to use them. Burning them built the modern world. And we should be thankful for that. But stopping burning them now makes sense as the cost of renewables has fallen to parity or even below hydrocarbons.

GE2017 Final Predictions

Vote Share

All are +/- 10% of the predicted vote and I’m 95% confident it will fall within those margins.

Tory – 46%

Labour – 37%

Lib Dem – 7%

UKIP – 3%

SNP – 4%

Others – 3%

Seat Count

Tory/Lab are +/- ten seats, others are +/- 10% at 95% confidence.

Tory – 374

Labour – 199

Lib Dem – 7

UKIP – 0 – :).

SNP – 47

PC – 4

Green – 1

Tory Majority of 98 (with all 650 MPs included)

My Bets

These are things I’ve got money on. Of the 34 bets, I now have zero confidence in 17 of them. So… Cash out?

Market Selection Type Odds
England Constituencies E – K / Hendon Labour Back 7.8
Wales Constituencies / Blaenau Gwent Plaid Cymru Back 5.5
2017 – UK General Election / Lib Dems Vote Percentage 10.01 – 15.0 Percent Back 2.38
2017 – UK General Election / Labour Vote Percentage 25.01 – 30.0 Percent Back 2.66
Scotland Constituencies / Edinburgh South Labour Back 2.06
2017 – UK General Election / Lib Dems U/O 2.5 Scottish Seats Over 2.5 Seats Back 2.1
2017 – UK General Election / Labour To Win A Seat in Scotland? No Back 2.26
2017 – UK General Election / Conservative U/O 385.5 Seats Over 385.5 Seats Back 1.4
2017 – UK General Election / Lib Dems U/O 14.5 Seats Under 14.5 Seats Back 1.5
2017 – UK General Election / Conservative U/O 399.5 Seats Over 399.5 Seats Back 2.02
2017 – UK General Election / Conservative U/O 7.5 Scottish Seats Over 7.5 Seats Back 1.7
2017 – UK General Election / UKIP Vote Percentage 5.0 Percent or Lower Back 1.53
2017 – UK General Election / UKIP To Win A Seat? No Back 1.13
2017 – UK General Election / Size Of Conservative Majority 200 – 224 Seats Back 14.5
2017 – UK General Election / Size Of Conservative Majority 175 – 199 Seats Back 9.8
2017 – UK General Election / Total Seats – Labour 100-149 Seats Back 2.84
2017 – UK General Election / Total Seats – Lib Dems 10-19 Seats Back 3.2
2017 – UK General Election / Total Seats – Conservative 400-449 Seats Back 2.92
2017 – UK General Election / Lib Dems U/O 28.5 Seats Under 28.5 Seats Back 1.81
2017 – UK General Election / Size Of Conservative Majority 125 – 149 Seats Back 5.4
2017 – UK General Election / SNP U/O 49.5 Seats Under 49.5 Seats Back 1.64
2017 – UK General Election / To Win A Seat Ed Balls Back 2
2017 – UK General Election / To Win A Seat Vince Cable Back 1.2
2017 – UK General Election / Conservative U/O 370.5 Seats Over 370.5 Seats Back 1.83
2017 – UK General Election / Lib Dems U/O 18.5 Seats Over 18.5 Seats Back 1.26
2017 – UK General Election / Lib Dems U/O 37.5 Seats Under 37.5 Seats Back 1.7
2017 – UK General Election / Labour U/O 218.5 Seats Under 218.5 Seats Back 1.2
2017 – UK General Election / Most Seats Conservative Back 1.07
2017 – UK General Election / Prime Minister After Election Theresa May Back 1.12
2017 – UK General Election / Overall Majority Conservative Majority Back 1.18
2017 – UK General Election / Labour Vote Percentage 20.01 – 25.0 Percent Back 2.56
2017 – UK General Election / Conservative U/O 337.5 Seats Over 337.5 Seats Back 1.18
UK – Party Leaders / Next Labour Leader Yvette Cooper Back 16

Interesting Seat Changes

Not so much predictions as me spouting.

Bolsover – Please, please, please let Dennis Skinner lose. His vicious bile against anything that smells like a Tory is tiresome and comes from the worst parts of our politics.

Farron – Believe name recognition (ha, a Lib Dem) may save him but interesting to see people so interested. Likely ends up like Nick Clegg last time with people wondering why they targetted him so heavily. (If he was targetted particularly heavily, him being a Lib Dem means I’ve paid as much attention as he deserves)

Lewis – Clive Lewis losing his seat would be spectacular. Not a Balls/Portillo moment – but for the future of the Labour party it’s better for this empty suit of a semi-Corbynista to lose. I reckon he will.

Gordon – Salmond to hold. Sadface.

Moray – Robertson to hold. Sadface.

Updated Modelled Figures

NB – I haven’t updated the model behind this at all since Comrade May’s awful manifesto. So some of the assumptions have had events overtake them. Hey ho.

Believe it sells SNP too much and buys Tory too little. Hence predictions above.

Con 342
Lab 234
SNP 44
Others 19
LD 6
PC 4
Green 1


Nothing Will Change

22 dead. Young girls will make up a significant proportion of the dead. 50 injured.

It’ll be confirmed as Islamist before the end of the day. And likely someone known to the intelligence services. And it’ll likely be homegrown.

There’ll be the backlash against Muslims by a few idiots. There’ll be a bigger backlash against those idiots. Nothing will change. Prejudices will be confirmed by everyone from every side. And instead of much being done the focus will be on the reverberating backlashes.

Nothing will change. The police and security services will learn some lessons. A politician or senior figure might retire. But at the cost of 19 dead and 50 injured no one will notice.

Nothing will change. Except for the families of the dead and wounded. Their worlds have changed but the focus will be on the noise and fury around them rather than any serious support given to them. Every side will use them as chess pieces.

Nothing will change. You can see that as a mantra of weakness or strength. Nothing will change, because the UK is too strong to be changed by terrorism. Nothing will change, because we don’t know how to face up to a generational, existential challenge like this any longer and don’t have the stomach to try.

The Homeless Liberals

I’m a liberal – free markets make for free people, the cycle reinforces itself with free people demanding further freedoms.

There is no political home for me in the UK – the Liberal Democrats are liberal in the loosest possible sense, but are not democratic and cannot hope to represent me. Labour are led by a man who wanted the IRA to win, who glorifies terrorism, and who takes money from Iran. UKIP are dead and have in the last five years gone from a party of fun if occasionally embarrassing semi-libertarians to the racist demagogues they became in order to win a few extra votes.

The Tories – ah the Tories – I’m a member of the Tory party. I will vote Tory in the coming election. But I am not a fan of Theresa May – her authoritarian instincts, her anti-market manifesto, and the continued ignoring of the importance of the deficit makes a mockery of the history of the party pro-market and pro-freedom.

It is not the place of government to inspire the country, to have a mission for the country. But a party should have an inspiring vision that drives it’s plan in government. There’s nothing wrong with having an ideology. With knowing where you want the government to go. With knowing that your plans are right and deserve to be implemented.

Under the strong and stable leadership of Theresa May, there will be no ideological crusades.

Be still my beating heart.

Because Conservatism is not and never has been the philosophy described by caricaturists. We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous.

Speak for yourself – free markets are conservative. Because they allow everything else to be paid for. Selfish individualism is the only thing that keeps the world pushing forward to the brighter future that generations of visionary capitalists have given us. Inequality isn’t an evil in itself – only if intergenerational inequality has become engrained to the point an oligarchy stifles growth and creative destruction. So long as there is equality of opportunity, inequality is not an issue. And dogma and ideology are not dangerous – but the way change can be forced through against inertia and resistance within the civil service. Michael Gove’s changes to the education system were ideological, dogmatic, and good.

There’s plenty that is fine within the Tory manifesto, scrapping the triple lock and the tax lock are smart. Changes to pensioner benefits are good. The social care policy is complicated but good. Scrapping Leveson 2 is good. These are the few bright spots in an otherwise statist manifesto.

Theresa May is likely to walk away with a triple digit majority – this is a chance to recast the UK, reforge it in the fire of Brexit as fit for the 21st Century. It is disappointing to see our authoritarian PM still insisting the internet needs regulating, not committing to get rid of the deficit as soon as possible, not committing to having tax as a percentage of GDP lower – even if individual taxes rise. There is no vision for the future of the NHS, tinkering around the edges of social care, and nothing new on autonomous cars and the data revolution that is increasingly moulding our world.

I’ll be voting conservative, but with David Cameron I had the idea of an ambitious vision for the UK – even if I disagreed with him over Brexit, I was happy to support him. Theresa May is a tedious authoritarian who will get good support in the shires and in the north of England, but refuses to be honest about the challenges facing the UK and thrust the UK unashamedly forward with the radical changes the country needs.

Go back to your constituencies and prepare for boredom!

Moore’s Law Meets Big Oil

Evolution, not revolution. Something that is true in almost all aspects of everyday life until you look around you and the world is completely different. When it comes to political systems I believe evolution leads to better outcomes than revolution, which almost always results in a body count.

But economics is different, driven by the market, technological change, and political influence – revolution is more common. Whether the growth in telegraph lines in the early US, where the Pony Express was set up in 1860 and destroyed by the transcontinental telegraph by 1861, or the growth of the internal combustion engine, or the internet.

Revolution happens fast in the economic world, and in technology, particularly so – driven by Moore’s law computers get faster and cheaper and so their applications grow rapidly.

The oil industry, insurance industry, auto-manufacture industry are all set for an almighty upset. This incredible report goes to something that has been apparent for a while, the oil industry is not likely to recover from this current downturn. Things will bump along for a few years but the market is not going to improve as the previously forecast demand growth simply will not happen. Electric vehicles are now viable, the running costs are low and so long as internal combustion engines see their negative externalities taxed (in the form of petrol duty in the UK), electric vehicles will become more and more competitive.

The market is not ready. Oil companies set their breakeven in the mid-50s, hoping to make money when demand returns. But demand for transportation will decline and continue declining. The environmental issues in China, the diesel scandal in Europe, the air quality concerns in London – all will put pressure on both emerging and developed markets to move more rapidly beyond combustion and towards EV.

The current consensus within the oil industry is that combustion vehicle sales will continue to outnumber EV sales long into the future. This is foolish and rests on a series of assumptions that don’t apply to EV combined with autonomous vehicles. Sales of autonomous electrical vehicles do not need to come close to sales of combustion, non-autonomous vehicles as the ownership of vehicles will change. This isn’t new – it’s the future business model for any automaker who wants to stay in business, but it is also not figured into forecasts for how disruptive EV will be.

Autonomous trucks are being trialled, autonomous vehicles as fleets that can work 24/7 servicing 10+ times as many people as a single car can today are already working in Tesloop. We’re rapidly approaching the inflexion point in the transportation industry, and as battery costs continue to drop towards the mining cost of Lithium, the curve for the adoption of EV becomes ever steeper.

The oil industry will be decimated by a fall in demand for oil – with huge geopolitical implications for the Middle East. The oil industry will still exist, but primarily as feedstock for chemicals and fuel for shipping and planes. The auto-industry will be decimated by a fall in sales and unless manufacturers adopt radically different business models and become first movers as Uber/Lyft type companies they will be swept away. The insurance industry will fail as the cost of insuring dramatically safer vehicles falls. This is all likely to happen before 2030, the world as we know it with petroleum running the world, will be completely different.

Moore’s law drives this – the fall in the cost of processing power makes autonomy work, and any economic process driven by Moore’s law will see gains along the same line – Moore’s law is coming to the transportation market.

GE2017 Predictions

I’ve been working on a pretty rudimentary model for the 2017 election. Broad brush strokes – 75% of UKIP vote goes Tory, the more Leave a seat is, the more the Tories take from Labour (or the SNP), the more remain it is, the more the Lib Dems take from Labour and the Tories. The more the seat voted for Independence, the less likely it is that the vote for leave matters, and the more inertia there is in the SNP vote.

Based on a variation on a uniform national swing and a poll of polls, and taking a point or three from Labour given their incredible weaknesses. Also, gives a point or three to the Lib Dems.

Below are the seats that I predict will change. Some that I don’t think will, like Moray with Angus Robertson are predicted by the model. Others like Bermondsey with Simon Hughes I think are a dead cert despite the weakness of the Lib Dems seen nationally. Given my complete lack of knowledge of Northern Ireland, I didn’t even attempt to predict them, assuming they all remained as in 2015.

It’s interesting to see how few seats the Lib Dems can pick up even under the relatively generous terms I’ve given them, the significant swings against them in 2015 and so many of their seats in the South-West having voted to leave makes it difficult for them to gain much against the Tories.

I think I’m too hard on the SNP, potentially too generous to the Tories (but not by much), and about right on the Lib Dems.

Parties Number of Seats (Change on 2015)
Con 428 (+97)
Lab 143 (-89)
SNP 41 (-15)
Others 19
LD 15 (+7)
PC 3
Green 1
Grand Total 650

ID Constituency Name 2017 Result 2015 Result
S14000002 Aberdeen South Con SNP
S14000058 Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine Con SNP
W07000043 Alyn & Deeside Con Lab
E14000535 Ashfield Con Lab
E14000543 Barrow & Furness Con Lab
E14000546 Bassetlaw Con Lab
E14000548 Batley & Spen Con Lab
S14000008 Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk Con SNP
E14000560 Birmingham Edgbaston Con Lab
E14000561 Birmingham Erdington Con Lab
E14000565 Birmingham Northfield Con Lab
E14000569 Bishop Auckland Con Lab
E14000573 Blackpool South Con Lab
E14000578 Bolton North East Con Lab
E14000588 Bradford South Con Lab
E14000593 Brentford & Isleworth Con Lab
W07000073 Bridgend Con Lab
E14000599 Bristol East Con Lab
E14000601 Bristol South Con Lab
E14000612 Bury South Con Lab
W07000080 Cardiff South & Penarth Con Lab
W07000079 Cardiff West Con Lab
E14000621 Carshalton & Wallington Con LD
E14000640 Chester, City Of Con Lab
E14000637 Chorley Con Lab
E14000642 Clacton Con UKIP
W07000062 Clwyd South Con Lab
E14000647 Copeland Con Lab
E14000650 Coventry North West Con Lab
E14000651 Coventry South Con Lab
E14000657 Dagenham & Rainham Con Lab
E14000658 Darlington Con Lab
W07000042 Delyn Con Lab
E14000843 Derbyshire North East Con Lab
E14000666 Dewsbury Con Lab
E14000667 Don Valley Con Lab
E14000671 Dudley North Con Lab
S14000013 Dumfries & Galloway Con SNP
E14000674 Ealing Central & Acton Con Lab
S14000020 East Lothian Con SNP
S14000024 Edinburgh South Con Lab
S14000025 Edinburgh South West Con SNP
E14000688 Ellesmere Port & Neston Con Lab
E14000690 Eltham Con Lab
E14000691 Enfield North Con Lab
E14000698 Exeter Con Lab
E14000710 Gedling Con Lab
E14000716 Great Grimsby Con Lab
E14000723 Halifax Con Lab
E14000727 Hampstead & Kilburn Con Lab
E14000732 Harrow West Con Lab
E14000733 Hartlepool Con Lab
E14000755 Hove Con Lab
E14000758 Hyndburn Con Lab
E14000759 Ilford North Con Lab
E14001033 Lancashire West Con Lab
E14000776 Lancaster & Fleetwood Con Lab
E14000801 Luton South Con Lab
E14000810 Mansfield Con Lab
E14000820 Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East Con Lab
S14000046 Moray Con SNP
E14000834 Newcastle-Under-Lyme Con Lab
W07000055 Newport East Con Lab
W07000056 Newport West Con Lab
E14000848 Norfolk North Con LD
E14000867 Nottingham South Con Lab
E14000870 Oldham East & Saddleworth Con Lab
E14000876 Penistone & Stocksbridge Con Lab
S14000054 Perth & Perthshire North Con SNP
S14000021 Renfrewshire East Con SNP
E14000903 Rother Valley Con Lab
E14000914 Scunthorpe Con Lab
E14000915 Sedgefield Con Lab
E14000930 Slough Con Lab
E14000956 Southampton Test Con Lab
E14000958 Southport Con LD
E14000967 Stalybridge & Hyde Con Lab
S14000057 Stirling Con SNP
E14000970 Stockton North Con Lab
E14000972 Stoke-On-Trent Central Con Lab
E14000973 Stoke-On-Trent North Con Lab
E14000974 Stoke-On-Trent South Con Lab
E14000998 Tooting Con Lab
W07000053 Torfaen Con Lab
E14001006 Tynemouth Con Lab
E14001009 Wakefield Con Lab
E14001011 Walsall North Con Lab
E14001012 Walsall South Con Lab
E14001017 Warrington North Con Lab
E14001036 Westminster North Con Lab
E14001043 Wirral South Con Lab
E14001044 Wirral West Con Lab
E14001049 Wolverhampton North East Con Lab
E14001051 Wolverhampton South West Con Lab
E14001053 Workington Con Lab
E14001054 Worsley & Eccles South Con Lab
W07000044 Wrexham Con Lab
W07000041 Ynys Mon Con Lab
E14000553 Bermondsey & Old Southwark LD Lab
E14000602 Bristol West LD Lab
E14000609 Burnley LD Lab
S14000009 Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross LD SNP
E14000617 Cambridge LD Lab
W07000050 Cardiff Central LD Lab
S14000018 Dunbartonshire East LD SNP
S14000026 Edinburgh West LD SNP
S14000049 Fife North East LD SNP
S14000055 Ross, Skye & Lochaber LD SNP