The Prime Minister has written to the EU Council to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline, but only if Parliament backs her twice-failed deal and only until the end of June.
The Prime Minister made her principal objection to a longer extension of the Brexit deadline the question of elections to the European Parliament. These are due to happen across the EU at the end of May, with the new Parliament sitting for the first time on 2 July.
Commenting, Chris Bryant MP, leading supporter of a People’s Vote, said:
“It is shocking that the Government intends to pursue a course of action that David Lidington, the Cabinet Office Minister, said just days ago would be ‘downright reckless’ and ‘completely at odds’ with the expressed will of the House of Commons.
“Once again the Prime Minister appears to have chosen Conservative Party management over the national interest. If she succeeds in securing a short extension from the EU, without a firm commitment to abandon her deal and change course, she will simply prolong this crisis.
“This kind of game-playing will not wash with the public.
“If we are still a part of Europe come the end of May then of course we should hold elections and ensure the British people are represented in the European Parliament, where our MEPs can stand up for the interests of their constituents and the country. It is extraordinary that the Prime Minister appears to believe otherwise.
“But if the Government succeeds in blocking UK participation in the elections in May, it is quite wrong to believe this will be a block to holding a People’s Vote. If we don’t hold the elections but do decide over the coming months to hold a People’s Vote, clearly the UK and EU will have to negotiate a mechanism to deal with the lack of UK presence on the Parliament. As the UK's most senior lawyer at the European Court of Justice, Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston, said recently, ‘a legal mechanism can be found to accommodate that desire and 'deal with' the issue of the EP elections.’
“But we are democrats first and foremost. The British people deserve better than for their Government to treat democratic elections as a threat or a bogeyman to be avoided.”