Euro elections must go ahead on May 23, Government says

The Government has accepted it cannot get its Brexit deal through Parliament in time to avoid European elections on May 23.

Theresa May's effective deputy David Lidington confirmed the elections will go ahead, but said the Government was "redoubling our efforts" to get an EU Withdrawal Agreement ratified by the start of July so the MEPs elected this month never have to take their seats.

Mr Lidington was speaking shortly before cross-party Brexit talks with Labour resumed in Whitehall.

Pressure on both sides to make progress was heightened by their poor performance in last week's local elections, which both Conservative and Labour leaderships interpreted as a message from voters to get on with delivering Brexit.

POLITICS Brexit
(PA Graphics)

Mrs May had been hoping the talks would deliver a compromise deal in time to allow her to call off the European Parliament elections.

But, more than a month after the talks began, Mr Lidington acknowledged time is now too tight to get a Withdrawal Agreement Bill through both Houses of Parliament by the date of the poll.

David Lidington
David Lidington (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Speaking at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, he said that, after its Withdrawal Agreement was rejected three times by MPs, the Government was trying to find "a way forward that has maximum possible support amongst politicians of all political parties".

"What this now means, given how little time there is, is that it is regrettably not going to be possible to finish that process before the date that is legally due for European parliamentary elections," he said.

21 PHOTOS
The Brexit Party
See Gallery
The Brexit Party
Nigel Farage during his Brexit Party's first press conference of the European Election campaign in central London.
Nigel Farage during his Brexit Party's first press conference of the European Election campaign in central London.
Nigel Farage (left) and Richard Tice during the Brexit Party's first press conference of the European Election campaign in central London.
Nigel Farage handouts during the Brexit Party's first press conference of the European Election campaign in central London.
Nigel Farage (centre) and Richard Tice (right) arrive for the Brexit Party's first press conference of the European Election campaign in central London.
A supporter holds his dog wrapped in a union flag at a Brexit Party rally at Mill Farm Sports Village, Wesham, Lancashire.
Nigel Farage speaks during a Brexit Party rally at Mill Farm Sports Village, Wesham, Lancashire.
Supporters at a Brexit Party rally at Mill Farm Sports Village, Wesham, Lancashire.
Ann Widdecombe speaks during a Brexit Party rally at Mill Farm Sports Village, Wesham, Lancashire.
Nigel Farage at a Brexit Party rally at Mill Farm Sports Village, Wesham, Lancashire.
Leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage with former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, who has defected from the Conservatives to join the Brexit Party, in Westminster, London.
Supporters at a Brexit Party rally at Mill Farm Sports Village, Wesham, Lancashire.
Leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage with former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, who has defected from the Conservatives to join the Brexit Party, in Westminster, London.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage with Aileen Kelly, 74, at the Moon and Starfish public house during during a walkabout and rally in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, for his Brexit Party.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage with Aileen Kelly, 74, at the Moon and Starfish public house during during a walkabout and rally in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, for his Brexit Party.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage arrives on an open top bus for a walkabout and rally in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage arrives on an open top bus for a walkabout and rally in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
Nigel Farage at the Moon and Starfish public house during a walkabout and rally in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, for his Brexit Party.
Brexit party supporters await the arrival of Nigel Farage during a walkabout and rally in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
People attend a Brexit Party rally on the sea front at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
People attend a Brexit Party rally on the sea front at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"We very much hoped that we would be able to get our exit sorted and have the treaty concluded so that those elections did not have to take place. But legally they do have to take place unless our withdrawal has been given legal effect, so those will now go ahead.

"But we will be redoubling our efforts and talks with MPs of all parties to try to make sure that the delay after that is as short as possible.

"Ideally we'd like to be in a situation where those MEPs never actually have to take their seat at European Parliament – certainly, to get this done and dusted by the summer recess."

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS