Posted on Feb 26, 2019
In a statement to the House of Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May has told MPs that she is prepared to countenance an extension to the date when the UK leaves the EU if there is no parliamentary consensus either on her withdrawal deal or on a no deal Brexit.
Such an extension is likely to be for a minimum of 3 months, during which time the European Parliamentary elections will take place.
Although the European Parliament does not sit again until 2 July after the elections (which take place between 23-26 May), it cannot sit at all unless and until all Member States have sent their contingent of MEPs to take their seats because EU rules mean that all citizens must be represented.
Commenting on the latest developments, Roger Casale, former Labour MP and the founder and General Secretary of New Europeans told EUToday, "It is good news that the Prime Minister is prepared to countenance a postponement of Brexit, albeit for only 3 months.
"But she cannot then decide to use that time to cancel democracy. The European parliamentary elections will fall during the proposed 3 month extension period must take place and we will be campaigning to make sure they do so."
Grassroots activists from New Europeans are behind the proposal which has now been taken up by the Labour Party to consider voting for the Withdrawal Agreement but with a sunset clause to secure a second referendum, if all else fails.
Five days after New Europeans launched the proposal, Labour MPs, Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson announced their intention to seek cross-party support for such a compromise.
Speaking about the proposal, Casale said:"We are very grateful to Peter and Phil for picking up our proposal and delighted that the Labour Party has decided to support it, too. We are continuing to engage with other parties to make sure this is a genuine cross-party initiative aimed at breaking the Brexit deadlock or cutting the Gordian knot as we would put it."
"The proposal offers a face-saving compromise to Labour and to the Government, by allowing both sides to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement in parliament only to give the final say back to the people.
If Theresa May requests a three month extension of Article 50 (or longer), then the European elections will take place while the UK is still an EU member.
Casale said, "There are many reasons why people voted to leave in 2016, but they did not include allowing the UK government to abolish democracy.
"British citizens and EU27 citizens in the UK (who choose to vote in the UK) must have representation in the European Parliament through their MEPs.
"Our representatives are elected and not appointed.
"We therefore call on Theresa May and the Government to bring forward legislative amendment to Schedule 9 of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which lists the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 and the European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003 among the Acts to be wholly repealed.
"This must be done so as to ensure that the European Parliamentary elections can take place in the UK on 23 May 2019."
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