The European Parliament “doesn’t intend to be ridiculed” and the EU election is “not a game,” said its president, Antonio Tajani, after he briefed EU leaders on the Parliament’s view on another Brexit extension.
Tajani’s statement came as a message to British Prime Minister Theresa May that MEPs are not impressed with her plan to embark on the European Parliament election, but then pull the U.K.’s participation either partway through the campaign or shortly afterward.
On her own way into a special summit of EU leaders Wednesday, at which May presented her request for an additional Brexit extension, the British prime minister said she still believed the U.K. could leave by May 22, the day before the election begins.
In her letter to European Council President Donald Tusk last week, May requested a further Brexit extension until June 30 and said that while it is not in the interests of either the U.K. or the EU for her country to take part in the EU election, she would undertake preparations for the poll as a “contingency.”
“We can’t accept that the European election be considered like a sort of game, and that the Parliament could have a variable composition, 751 for a year and then 705, then three who leave, five who arrive because of uncertainty,” Tajani said, referring to a decision last year to shrink the size of the chamber from 751 MEPs to 705 after Brexit.
If the U.K. decides to participate in the EU election, countries like France and Ireland — which were set to gain MEPs — would have to freeze their additional seats.
“The Parliament doesn’t intend to be ridiculed by anyone,” Tajani added. “We want to know what will happen and how long will last the current transition period … We want to have certainty on the composition of the Parliament in the first and second phase.”