LONDON: Pro-Brexit British politician Nigel Farage on Friday launched a campaign for an election that may never take place to an institution he routinely insults the contest for UK seats in the European Parliament.
Britain was supposed to have left the European Union before the European elections, which take place in late May in every EU nation. But with Britain’s Parliament still deadlocked over whether to approve the government’s divorce deal with the bloc, EU leaders have postponed the Brexit deadline until Oct 31.
British Prime Minister Theresa May says taking part in this year’s European elections three years after the nation voted to leave the EU would be “unthinkable.” She still hopes Britain can avoid the UK’s May 23 election by leaving the 28-nation bloc before then.
But with British lawmakers unwilling to endorse the divorce agreement that May forged with the EU, preparations have begun to fill the 73 UK spots in the 751-seat European legislature. Winning candidates from Britain will only get to serve as long as their country remains in the EU.
Britain’s ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour party are unenthusiastic about running in the European Parliament election, where they are likely to be punished by disgruntled voters.
But pro-Brexit and pro-EU parties are eager to run in a contest seen by many as a way to express their strongly divergent views on the EU.
Farage held the first campaign rally of his newly formed Brexit Party, calling delays to Britain’s departure from the EU “a willful betrayal of the greatest democratic exercise in the history of this nation.”
“The fightback begins here,” said Farage, who formerly led the UK Independence Party and has sat in the European parliament since 1999.
Farage was instrumental in helping the Leave side win Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership, but stepped down as UKIP leader after the referendum. UKIP has since shifted to the far right; its new leader hired anti-Muslim agitator and convicted fraudster Tommy Robinson as an adviser.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019