UKGov’s legal advice might be secret, but EU watchers have been discussing this for months.
I agree that EP elections would have to be held and UK MEPs take up their seats. I don’t agree at all that this rules out the A50 extension necessary for a #FinalSay referendum. 1/
In June, the EU Council agreed a decision on the composition of the European Parliament after Brexit. This redistributes the UK seats to the other Member States.
Article 2 of this decision makes specific provision for what happens if the UK is still a Member State at the beginning of the 2019-2024 EP term.
It says that the composition will be the current one, as laid out in the 2013 decision that is still in force. 3/
That decision specifies the UK will have 73 MEPs, which it currently does. 4/
So, as @jonworth argues here, it would be an unusual election, and many in UKGov and EU27 and EU institutions would prefer not to have it, but there don’t appear to be any legal obstacles. In fact, there is specific legal provision for the eventuality. 5/
As the ever level-headed @Sime0nStylites points out, this is messy, but not especially problematic for good reasons.
Those are that if the UK is a Member State, it must, like any MS, have MEPs to represent it (and a Commissioner, for that matter). 6/
That’s not to say it isn’t a serious political issue. UKGov no doubt doesn’t fancy it, and EU27 would much prefer, understandably, not to have this issue, and Brexit in general, cluttering up or overshadowing what is meant to be an important year of renewal and new mandates. 7/
That is one of the reasons that I don’t think it is very likely that EU27 would want to extend Article 50 past the elections for anything other than a plan, such as a Ratify vs Remain referendum, that ruled out the chaos and cost of a No Deal Brexit. 8/
Which is perhaps why UKGov is leaking this unsurprising legal advice now with the surprising and, in my view false, spin that it would rule out a #PeoplesVote.
Or perhaps the timing is more to do with the obvious faliure of the PM’s argument that a referendum is undemocratic.9/9
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