European Council Donald Tusk told the European Parliament this morning, “One of the consequences of our decision is that the UK will hold European elections next month. We should approach this seriously, as UK members of the European Parliament will be there for several months, maybe longer. They will be full members of the Parliament, with all their rights and obligations.” He added, “I am strongly opposed to the idea that during the extension, the UK should be treated as a second category member state. No, it cannot.” Meanwhile, a European Parliament spokesperson said that MEPs could hold an “extraordinary session” in order to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement if the UK House of Commons ratifies the deal before 2 July, when the newly elected European Parliament is due to start its work.
This comes as Prime Minister, Theresa May, has written to civil servants to say that preparations for a No Deal Brexit should continue, but with “sensibly adjusted timescales given the extension [to Article 50] we have agreed [with the EU].” This follows reports last week that the Government had stood down Operation Yellowhammer, which was devoted to No Deal planning.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday said passing the Withdrawal Agreement should remain a priority for the Government, and that the contest to find a successor to Theresa May as Conservative Party leader would have to wait. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “There will be a time for all those discussions about whether this shade of person or that shade of person is the right person to take over from the Prime Minister. But the time for that is when she has announced she’s going and there’s a formal leadership contest.” Hunt also said discussions with the Labour party have been “more constructive than people thought,” while suggesting that if the talks did not result in a breakthrough, the Government may “need to find a way to rebuild the DUP-Conservative coalition.”
Elsewhere, Open Europe’s Dominic Walsh is quoted in the Financial Times. He also appeared as an analyst on Global News Canada.