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Downing Street admits new UK MEPs may have to take their seats in European Parliament

2 min read

Britain's new MEPs may end up having to take their seats in the European Parliament after all, Downing Street has admitted.

David Lidington, Theresa May's de facto deputy, had already confirmed that the UK will have to take part in the EU elections on 23 May because of the Government's failure to deliver Brexit.

However, the Government had hoped that the UK would have left the bloc by 30 June, meaning the 73 successful candidates would not have to travel to Brussels when the new parliamentary session begins on 1 July.

Mr Lidington hinted that the timetable could slip once again when he said hopes to "certainly to get this done and dusted by the summer recess", which will begin at the end of July.

The Prime Minister's spokesman later admitted that would push the exit date back to 1 August, meaning the MEPs would have to take their seats for a month.

That would be yet another major embarrassment for Theresa May, who has already seen two Brexit deadlines come and go without success.

Her spokesman said: "In relation to parliamentary timetables, we will look to complete this ideally by 30 June, but if not then by the summer recess."

Senior ministers were meeting with their Labour counterparts on Tuesday for the latest round of negotiations aimed at trying to secure a Brexit deal that can win a majority in the Commons.

Government sources said the talks would help to establish whether any sort of agreement between the two parties is still possible.

Mrs May last month secured a Brexit extension up to 31 October after she failed to get her deal through the Commons ahead of the previous deadlines of 12 April and, before that, 31 March.

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans, who is standing in the elections, said: "The British government has chosen to wait until the deadline to register to vote to confirm that the European election will be going ahead.

"This is a deeply cynical move, which may well leave thousands of people disenfranchised because they didn’t know there was an election happening."

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