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Theresa May Confirms Brits Will Vote in EU Elections, Despite Having Voted to Leave Bloc Three Years Earlier

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OLIVER JJ LANE

British Prime Minister Theresa May has written to EU President Donald Tusk to request another Brexit delay, and in doing so is accepting that the country would have to contest next month’s European Parliament elections.

May accepted the nation would go to the polls next month to select their Members of the European Parliament in accordance with EU law in a letter to her EU counterpart just hours after her own Brexit secretary told the British House of Commons: “To have European parliamentary elections three years after the country voted to leave would be damaging to our politics as a whole.”

And these comments followed others by the Prime Minister herself, when she said last month that if Brexit was delayed a second time, as she is now requesting permission to do, it would knock public confidence in the effectiveness of British democracy. She told Parliament in March: “Any further extension would require us to stand in European parliamentary elections.

“As I said earlier, I think people would ask what on earth we were doing if, having voted nearly three years ago to leave the European Union, they were then asked to elect Members to the European Parliament. I think they would say that we were failing to deliver on their vote, and I believe we have a duty to do that.”

Writing today that while it remained her view that it wouldn’t be in the national interest to hold EU elections next month, the Prime Minister was nevertheless applying for an extension to the UK’s membership of the EU well beyond May and to June 30th, and hence would have to take part in the vote.

The Prime Minister wrote: “…the United Kingdom accepts the European Council’s view that … [the UK] would be under a legal obligation to hold the elections.

“The Government is therefore undertaking the lawful and responsible preparations for this contingency, including making the order that sets the date of the poll.”

While it is in the power of the European Union to reject the extension request and force the United Kingdom out of the bloc in one week’s time on April 12th, this appears increasingly unlikely. EU Council President Donald Tusk — to whom May’s letter was addressed this morning — said last night that he’d recommend to other EU members that they offer a significantly longer ‘flextension’ to the UK so it could stay in the European Union almost as long as it wanted — an extra year in the EU under this has been suggested.

Friday’s developments continue to prove the point made by Brexit leader Nigel Farage that if the government succeeded in delaying Brexit once — as it did in March — it would then feel free to do so “again and again”. Mr Farage wrote in February that: “Theresa May’s endless assertions that she will deliver the Brexit the people voted for is beginning to look as if it was a deceit from the start.”

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