North Wales councils are preparing for the possibility of holding European parliamentary elections in May.
It had been thought that with Brexit set to take place on March 29, the UK would not take part in the poll on May 23.
But the situation is now far from clear after Westminster voted to back a delay in the Brexit process, with the Prime Minister indicating she would seek ‘a long extension’ in the Article 50 process if MPs failed to back her deal.
In May 2018 it was reported that the Electoral Commission had set aside £829,000 for its “activities relating to a European Parliamentary election in 2019”.
Although describing the move at the time as a “precautionary measure” so that the necessary funds were in place, authorities across the UK have now been advised to plan for polls which would be held in just two months time.
Colin Everett, the Chief Executive of Flintshire Council, said: “All Returning Officers have been advised by the Electoral Commission to plan for the possibility of the elections being held in the UK as a contingency only.
“No budgets have been allocated and no costs incurred in contingency planning. All enquiries should be directed to the Electoral Commission at this early stage.”
According to UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union: “If the UK were to seek an extension beyond 1 July, and hence remain a Member State beyond that point, it would need to participate in the EP (European Parliament) elections.
“First, the EU Treaties provide that EU citizens have the right to be represented in the EP, and there is no legal mechanism by which the UK could return MEPs to the new EP other than by participating in the elections.
“Second, for it to perform its functions, including the appointment of the Commission and the adoption of any legislation, the EP needs to be properly constituted under the EU Treaties, with duly elected representatives from all Member States.”
By Gareth Williams – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email News@Wrexham.com