LONDON - British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday she was beginning preparations to hold elections for the European Parliament despite her country’s desire to quit the European Union, an acknowledgment that its divorce efforts could be significantly delayed.
In a letter to a top EU official, May asked for Britain’s departure date from the European Union to be delayed until June 30 and said that she would order that European elections be held in late May assuming Britain is still an EU member. Without a reprieve from the other 27 leaders of EU nations, Britain is due to crash out of the club without a safety net on April 12.
May’s government is “undertaking the lawful and responsible preparations” for an election, May said in her letter to European Council President Donald Tusk.
She said that if Britain and the European Union manage to ratify a divorce deal before late May, she would seek to depart from the bloc more quickly and skip the vote. Many hard line Brexit advocates loathe the idea of participating in the elections.
The decision opens the door to a longer extension from EU leaders, who said that Britain could not continue to be a member of the European Union beyond May 22 if it did not hold the elections. They feared that any decision taken by the new parliament could be challenged if Britain wasn’t represented in it.
Signaling a Brexit delay By Karla Adam, Michael Birnbaum (c) 2019, The Washington Post Apr 05, 2019