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Britain takes legal steps needed to vote in EU parliament elections

Hannah Mckay, Reuters | An EU flag flies outside the houses of Parliament in London on April 3.

The British government said Monday it had taken the necessary steps required by law to participate in European parliament elections on May 23 but said it did not intend to hold them as Britain should have left the EU by then.

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A spokeswoman said the formal "day of poll order" had been submitted to parliament, but added: "It remains the government's intention to leave the EU with a deal and pass the necessary legislation before 22 May so that we do not need to participate."

Britain is due to leave the EU on Friday, April 12, but Prime Minister Theresa May has asked the EU for a further delay to Britain’s exit date while she seeks to reach a compromise with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party to get her Brexit deal passed. 

May heads to Berlin and Paris on Tuesday to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron and will be phoning other leaders before setting out the case for another delay at Wednesday’s emergency EU summit in Brussels.

The UK prime minister is seeking a further Brexit extension to June 30, a proposal that will be debated by British lawmakers will discuss in a 90-minute debate on Tuesday.

The debate has been forced on the government by parliament passing a law on Monday which will give lawmakers the power to scrutinise and even make legally binding changes to May's request to extend the Article 50 negotiating period again.

Brexit might 'never happen", says May

Nearly three years after the United Kingdom shocked the world by voting by 52 percent to 48 to leave the EU, May warned Monday that Brexit might never happen but said that she would do everything possible to make sure it did.

“We have been in touch with the opposition today and technical talks between officials will take place this evening,” a spokesman for May said.

Labour’s Brexit point man, Keir Starmer, said earlier that May’s government had so far not shifted from its red lines on Brexit and so no way forward had been agreed.

“Both us and the government have approached this in the spirit of trying to find a way forward. We haven’t found that yet. We will continue to do that,” Starmer said.

Labour's demands include keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU, something which is hard to reconcile with May's desire for Britain to have an independent trade policy.

The Telegraph reported Labour and the government were still discussing both a customs union and the idea of holding a confirmatory referendum on any deal they agree.

Both ideas are anathema to many in May's party, whose rebels have helped trigger three parliamentary defeats of the withdrawal deal she negotiated with the EU last year.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

 

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