Monday

13th Jul 2020

Interview

EU election now a 'proxy referendum' on Brexit

  • The UK may end up contesting the European elections on 23 May after all - despite voting to leave the EU in 2016, and supposedly leaving on March 29 (Photo: European Parliament)

Molly Scott Cato, a Green MEP from the UK, is preparing to stay on as European parliament deputy for another five years.

"The European election campaign will become a proxy referendum, we will have vast enthusiasm for the EU," she told this website on Wednesday (10 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But big questions remain.

EU heads of state and government on Wednesday night will set a new deadline for UK's departure from the European Union.

The initial 29 March cut-off date, already replaced by 12 April, will likely now extend far beyond what prime minister Theresa May had hoped for.

If it does, then the UK may go to the European polls on 23 May. Up for grabs are 73 spots in the 751-seat assembly.

Some current British MEPs and other future hopefuls are now gearing up for a snap European election campaign. Nigel Farage's new Brexit party is also recruiting candidates.

A poll released on Wednesday by the eurosceptic think tank, Open Europe, has outlined the voting intentions of the British public in the European elections.

It found 37.8 percent would vote Labour, 23 percent Conservative and only 10.3 percent Brexit party.

The projected Conservative hammering comes on the back of more than two years of Brexit talks, exposing deep rifts within the British government and within May's own cabinet.

"All that is left is angry people on one side, a lot of confused people in the middle and people like me that are desperately trying to save my country from the total disaster," says Scott Cato.

British MEPs

Questions remain, however, on whether British MEPs will be sidelined in the next legislature.

Claude Moraes, a senior British labour MEP, was earlier this month removed as rapporteur for a parliamentary legislative report on the Brexit visa waiver file.

Moraes blamed Spain, and its insistence to describe Gibraltar as a "colony of the British crown'.

But Cato dismisses the incident as an exception.

She noted many pro-EU MEPs tend to vote along party lines, leaving behind national interests, unlike the member states in the European Council.

"I am a Green, as well as a Brit, and usually I vote with the Green group rather than in the interests of Britain," she said.

She also pointed out that other MEPs from around Europe have been supportive, declaring that British MEPs retain full rights as members until the day they leave the union.

Her plan, if elected for another term, is to help strip the unanimity rule for member states on issues dealing with taxation.

The conservative UK government opposes tax harmonisation. But Brexit has cast a long shadow over May's leadership and her governing party.

"I am sure that a Labour government would look much more favourably on cooperative tax policy in Europe," warned Cato.

EU leaders ponder long vs short Brexit delay

EU leaders will discuss a Brexit extension, as requested by the British PM, to avoid a no-deal Brexit and allow more time for MPs to ratify the divorce deal. But they disagree on the length of the delay.

Opinion

Why the UK government failed to tackle the euromyths

A British former EU Commission official reflects on the failure to tackle the early days of the British press' euro-myths, during the Boris Johnson and John Major-era of the 1990s.

Tusk tells May not to ignore anti-Brexit UK citizens

As British MPs are poised to give an advisory vote on possible Brexit alternatives, EU Council chief Donald Tusk has called on Theresa May's government to listen to those who British citzens want to stop Brexit.

Opinion

How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament

British plans to - maybe - take part in EU elections risk legal chaos in the next European Parliament, which could be resolved only by treaty change - an unlikely prospect.

EU and Britain: 'New momentum' required for deal

British and EU leaders agreed that talks need to intensify to avoid an cliff-edge to the "economic Brexit", but there is little common ground yet in talks on how future relations should look like.

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit

EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration

"No significant progress" has been made on the latest round of talks between the UK and EU on how their relationship should look from January, according to Michel Barnier. The EU told UK to stick to its prior commitments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us