- UK government confirms the country will take part in the upcoming European Parliament elections.
- Theresa May’s deputy, David Lidington, says the a Brexit deal cannot be ratified in time to avoid participating in the elections later this month.
- The European elections are due to take place on May 23.
- May had previously committed to preventing the elections taking place.
- The Conservatives are set to suffer a drubbing, polls suggest.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
LONDON – The European Parliament elections will take place in the United Kingdom later this month, the government has confirmed.
Theresa May’s deputy David Lidington said on Tuesday there was no longer enough time to pass a Brexit deal through the UK House of Commons in order to prevent the elections going ahead.
Lidington said in a statement that it was “not going to be possible to finish that process” before the date of the elections.
“Given how little time there is, it is regrettably not going to be possible to finish that process before the date that’s legally due for the European Parliamentary elections.
“We very much hoped that we would be able to get our exit sorted, 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.”
He added that the government was “re-doubling” its efforts to secure a deal that meant new British members of the European Parliament would not have to take their seats.
“We would like to be in a situation… to get this done and dusted by the summer recess,” he said.
The Conservatives are set to suffer poor results in the European elections, with swathes of angry Brexit-voting Brits set to ditch May’s party and back Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, according to various opinion polls.
The Tories are currently reeling after losing over 1,300 seats at last week’s local elections.
Lidington confirms the European elections:
Theresa May's unofficial deputy David Lidington confirms UK will hold European elections later this month, as MPs run out of time to agree a #Brexit deal before the vote – but he still hopes UK MEPs "never actually have to take their seats"https://t.co/pqMUFkdggp pic.twitter.com/PI8pryfhad
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 7, 2019
The government’s acceptance that European elections will take place in the UK this month comes as May prepares to set out the terms of her Brexit offer to the Labour party.
The prime minister is expected to offer temporary membership of the customs union in an attempt to push Labour into backing a deal.
However, the reported offer is unlikely to win majority approval from Labour MPs, with many opposed to any deal that does not include the offer of a new referendum.
Shadow Brexit Minister Matthew Pennycook tweeted at the weekend that it was “self-evident” that Labour MPs would not back any deal that did not contain a “confirmatory vote.”
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