FUW: Preparations must be made for EU elections to avoid next cliff edge

Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) president Glyn Roberts has written to Prime Minister Theresa May urging that preparations should be made for EU parliamentary elections.

Roberts said it would avoid taking options off the table which are in the nations’ interest.

The call comes following reports that the Prime Minister had written to the EU seeking an extension to the Article 50 period until 30 June.

However, details of a leaked internal EU diplomatic memo published by the Independent online suggests that the leaders of the 27 Member States who must approve any extension period will have to choose either a short extension to before May 23, or a long delay until at least the end of the year.

The memo states that an extension until 30 June “…would entail serious legal and political risks for the European Union and would import some of the current uncertainties in the United Kingdom into the EU 27”.

The paper claims the memo added: “Any extension offered to the United Kingdom should either last until May 23, 2019, or should be significantly longer and require European elections.”

Roberts’ letter states that the FUW supports the revocation of Article 50 in order to take full control over the Brexit process, and allow it to take place over a safe and realistic timescale.

It adds: “If a short delay is agreed by the EU but Parliament again finds itself unable to reach agreement in the weeks leading up to the new deadline, we may have no choice but to leave the EU without an agreement if we have not made the necessary preparations for the European Parliament elections in May.”

Roberts acknowledged that there may be mechanisms to overcome the need to hold an MEP election – such as rolling over the representation of current MEPs. However, he added that because the EU requires notification of the candidates and arrangements in the coming weeks, May should instead make preparations for a European Parliament election in May.

He added: “Failure to do this is likely to take one or more of the future options available to the UK off the table in the event that a further or longer delay is, later in the year, deemed to be in our nations’ interest.

“While I appreciate that such a decision would be controversial and unpopular amongst some, I would emphasise that vast numbers of businesses and individuals fully appreciate the complexity of withdrawing us from a relationship built up over 46 years, and understand why respecting the outcome of the Referendum without inflicting damage on the UK’s economy can only be achieved if Brexit takes place over a safe and realistic timescale.”