Britain’s active participation in an upcoming EU summit is at risk if Thursday’s election fails to yield a decisive result, reports The Times . If no party wins the election outright or alternatively wins the ability quickly to secure the support of a majority of MPs in the House of Commons, then upcoming EU meetings may be attended by ‘lame duck’ incumbents from the previous Parliament.
In such circumstances the civil service advises incumbent ministers not to take decisions that are either unnecessary or likely to be reversed by the incoming government when it eventually takes office. Ministers are also recommended to consult their potential successors, but this is voluntary.
Coalition ministers, Conservative ones in particular, will see such meetings as a means to reinforce their bid to form the next government.
The first of these meetings takes place between finance ministers on Tuesday 12 May. George Osborne will attend in the absence of a new Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss the latest stages of the Greek economic crisis. The second is on Monday 18 May when Philip Hammond, if then still Foreign Secretary, will be discussing the EU migrant situation.
The third and potentially most important meeting is the EU summit on Thursday 21 May. David Cameron is invited to attend that meeting either as the newly-installed Prime Minister or as the previous incumbent pending a new appointment. On this occasion future relations between Russia, Eastern European states and the EU will be debated.
Speaking to ITV’s Agenda programme, Osborne said:
“You would expect Britain to be able to commit to taking part in these discussions. There is a price for instability and the price is quickly paid.”