The UK confirmed it would “regrettably” take part in European elections despite Conservatives’ promises to get the exit sorted by then. As Cabinet Office Minister Mr. Lidington pointed out, “legally they do have to take place unless our withdrawal has been given legal effect” which is impossible prior to elections. Accordingly, the situation now gets even more confusing on both sides.
As for the EU, the elections are expected to produce fragmented results even without the UK’s participation. Eurosceptic and anti-immigration parties seem to gain the greatest support. On the opposite, centrist parties have poor prospects towards creating a majority. Accordingly, the coalition is assumed to lose its ability to compose effective coalition – and possibly even ending up divided due to ideological distinctions. This might also have disrupting effects on the stability and future political agenda of the EU project. At the same time, the fragmented interests may also disrupt the fragile consensus towards the whole Brexit issue.
Specifically, the quick EU-UK deal on trade is assumed to be the most controversial part of future discussions on Brexit. British MEPs are supposed to give up their seats before they have the chance to shape key decisions. The costs for European Elections are estimated to be around 150 million pounds. The pressure on the government to leave the EU before 25 May has therefore further increased. Despite the conclusions of last month’s EU summit that the UK has to take part in European elections if the Brexit withdrawal agreement has not been ratified in parliament by 22 May, this plan slowly turns out to be almost impossible.