Jill Evans, Plaid Cymru MEP, for Wales, blasted the move that she said would affect thousands of potential voters in Britain from having their say in the ballot on May 23. She told HuffPost UK: “The British government has chosen to wait until the deadline to register to vote to confirm that the European election will be going ahead. “This is a deeply cynical move, which may well leave thousands of people disenfranchised.”
This afternoon’s announcement came as it emerged that a break in the Tory-Labour Brexit deadlock was unlikely before the EU elections.
David Lidington, referring to the Brexit stalemate, told Sky News: “Given how little time there is, it is regrettably not going to be possible to finish that process before the date that is legally due for European Parliamentary elections.
“We very much hoped we would be able to get our exit sorted and have the treaty concluded so that those elections did not have to take place.
“But legally, they do have to take place – unless our withdrawal has been given legal effect – so those will now go ahead.”
He added: “Ideally we’d like to be in a situation where those MEPs never actually have to take their seat at EP, certainly to get this done and dusted by the summer recess.”
The Government resumed talks with Labour after the Easter break but the deadlock continues over the terms of withdrawing form the EU.
If no compromise is reached, indicative votes on possible next steps will be offered to Parliament.
So far, there has been no agreement between Britain’s main parties and few held out any hope of a breakthrough today.
But with the clock ticking down before European elections, when both parties could face more bruising results after local polls last week, time is running out.
The Conservatives lost more than 1,000 seats after expecting to shed around 500 as Brexiteers and Remainers alike punished Mrs May and her party.
As a result of the losses, the 1922 Committee are in talks today over whether rules can be bent to oust Mrs May as a matter of urgency.
In a message to members of the convention, reported by the Conservative Home website, chairman Andrew Sharpe said they would be asked to vote on a motion.
He said: “We no longer feel that Mrs May is the right person to continue as Prime Minister to lead us forward in the negotiations.”
He added it was “therefore with great reluctance we ask that she considers her position and resigns”.
Former Tory supporters have pledged to vote for Nigel Farage’s booming Brexit Party in the ballot.