The UK will hold European elections on May 23 after the Government said time had run out for a Brexit deal to be passed in Parliament before then. Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29 but that deadline was extended by Brussels to October 31 after MPs refused to pass the EU Withdrawal agreement. The Government has since been holding cross-party talks with Labour in a bid to break the deadlock and get an earlier leaving date for the UK. However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May today confirmed there was no chance of ratification on the Brexit deal before the next two weeks.
David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, said the delay had come “regrettably” but hoped it would be “as short as possible”.
That means the UK must vote on its next MEPs at the European Elections before talks can progress.
Mr Lidington said despite the delay, there was still a chance of those politicians being elected still not having to take their seats.
He said: “Ideally we would like to be in a situation where those MEPs from the UK never actually take their seats in the European Parliament, certainly to get this done and dusted by the summer recess.”
Parliament’s summer recess usually starts towards the end of July.
Mr Lidington confirmed the government’s new Brexit deal deadline was now July 2.
He added Mrs May “deeply regrets” the UK not leaving the EU at the end of March.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said talks were at “crunch time, where the government has got to decide whether it is serious about significant changes capable of actually delivering a majority in the House of Commons”.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey indicated, however, there had been no move towards a customs union.
Speculation is now increasing that the UK might be facing an inevitable second referendum.
Ms Long-Bailey refused to rule it out, saying it was “one of many options”.
She said: “We haven’t had any movement or agreement on a customs union, certainly not today, but we will see what the rest of the week holds.
“Our policy position has not changed since the last Labour conference, where a public vote was one of many options on the table, certainly to avoid a Tory deal, a bad Tory Brexit or a no-deal situation.
“Certainly we’ve been exploring the issue of a confirmatory vote in these discussions, but as yet nothing has been agreed.”
Both the Tories and Labour are under immense pressure after losing seats in last week’s local elections.
In contrast, the pro-EU party Liberal Democrats gained 703 seats, taking its total number of councillors to 1,350.