British officials have been given the green light to begin preparations for European elections in May as a “contingency” measure, the Press Association reports.
The UK would be required to take part in the elections if a delay to Brexit is sought by the government.
Advice issued to returning officers, the local officials responsible for running elections around the country, said that the rejection of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement by MPs on Friday meant “the opportunity to guarantee that the UK would not participate in EP elections has been removed”
David Lidington, Cabinet Office Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said returning officers would be reimbursed by Whitehall for “reasonable” expenses incurred to prepare for the May 23 poll.
In a letter to Bob Posner, CEO of the Electroal Commission, David Lidington stressed that
“It remains the intention for the UK to leave the EU with a deal and not take part in the European parliamentary elections in May”. But in a letter to the Electoral Commission, he said:
I am able to confirm that Cabinet Office will reimburse reasonable spending by returning officers on contingency preparations for European parliament elections."
To read the full letter to Ian Posner, CEO of the Electoral Commission, click here