UK to contest EU elections on May 23rd
This week Cabinet Office minister and de facto deputy prime minister David Lidington formally announced what we already knew – that the UK would go to the polls on May 23rd to elect Members of the European Parliament. Britain’s new MEPs will keep their seats until such time as Westminster ratifies a Withdrawal Agreement.
The Labour Party, SNP and Liberal Democrats on Thursday launched their respective campaigns for the forthcoming EU elections. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reaffirmed his party’s official position that unless a ‘sensible’ Brexit plan is agreed along the lines proposed by his party, he would campaign for a public vote.
Meanwhile the government has resumed talks with Labour in an attempt to break the ongoing deadlock in Parliament over the terms of withdrawing from the EU. Downing Street has indicated that if no compromise is reached it will offer indicative votes as a potential next step to break the impasse.
However, No. 10 may soon find it has lost all remaining control of the process as tensions within senior ranks of the Conservative party boiled over this week with a number of front runners lining into position ahead of an expected leadership contest. Former Cabinet minister Esther McVey, who resigned as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in November, announced she had sufficient support to put her hat in to the ring. Meanwhile, her successor Amber Rudd this week used a speech in London to set out her vision to turn the Conservatives into the party of the 21st century worker.
Pressure on the Prime Minister to set out a clear timeline for her departure is likely to increase in the lead up to the European elections where Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit Party is expected to inflict significant damage on the Conservatives.