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by Liam Kirkaldy
04 April 2019
Mike Russell urges UK Government to confirm it will hold European elections

Image credit: PA

Mike Russell urges UK Government to confirm it will hold European elections

Scottish Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell has urged the UK Government to confirm it will hold European Parliament elections in May, warning a lack of preparation could “increase the risk of problems at the poll.”

Russell also raised concern that EU nationals in the UK may not be left with enough time to complete required paperwork for voting, warning “If EU citizens do not have time to complete and return these forms then they will be disenfranchised and will not be able to vote on 23 May. If this does happen then it will call into question the propriety of the poll.”

The UK currently has until 12 April to either present European leaders with a way forward for plans to leave the EU or leave with no deal, after Theresa May requested an extension to Article 50.

A majority of MPs then voted to prevent a no deal Brexit, though any delay would still require the EU’s agreement.

But with European elections due to be held between 23 and 26 May, any further extension to Brexit agreed with the EU would mean the UK taking part.

In a letter to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, Russell said: “If the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are to remain part of the European Union after the 22 May 2019, in my view it is imperative that European Parliament elections are held both because this is a legal obligation on the UK Government, and so that appropriate representation is in place to promote and protect our interests. This would appear to be the inevitable consequence of the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday.”

He added: “I note what you have said about reimbursing reasonable spending on preparations for the poll but, as you will be aware, in order to hold the poll on Thursday 23 May 2019 the UK Government must make the Order formally setting that date for the poll. As you are aware, this Order must be made by Thursday 11 April 2019.”

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