Britain will have to take part in European Parliament elections on May 23 as there is not enough time left to get an exit deal ratified by parliament before then, Prime Minister Theresa May’s de facto deputy said on Tuesday.
May had hoped to avoid taking part in the vote, but so far talks with the opposition Labour Party aimed at finding a way forward on Brexit have not succeeded in breaking the deadlock.
“It is regrettably not going to be possible to finish that process before the date that is legally due for the European parliamentary elections. So those will now go ahead,” David Lidington, minister for the Cabinet Office, told reporters.
The BBC reports:
The UK was due to leave the EU on 29 March, but as no deal was agreed by Parliament, the EU extended the deadline to 31 October. It can leave the bloc earlier, but if the UK has not left by the 23 May, it is legally obliged to take part in the EU-wide poll and to send MEPs to Brussels.
The government has resumed talks with Labour to try and break the deadlock in Parliament over the terms of withdrawing from the EU. It has promised that if no compromise is reached, it will offer indicative votes on possible next steps to Parliament.
A number of other parties have already announced their candidates and launched their European election campaigns, but the Conservatives have yet to do the same.