It’s a slightly farcical situation we find ourselves in.
As you are no doubt acutely aware, the UK will leave the European Union at some point in 2019; whenever our feckless representatives can get their houses in order, that is.
And yet, all of our mainstream and niche political parties are taking part in the European elections, which will take place next week.
But what’s the point of that, you might be thinking? And quite rightly, too.
The prime minister herself said on numerous occasions that we wouldn’t be taking part in the European parliamentary process, and yet we find polling cards dropping through our doorsteps to have our say when the polls open on Thursday May 23.
So why bother? Well, hopefully the rest of this article will provide adequate explanation.
What are the European Elections 2019 For?
The European Elections decide the make up of the EU Parliament, which governs on matters relating to the European Union. This includes making laws that all of the member states must abide by.
In England, Scotland and Wales we vote for our preferred party from the options provided. The number of votes a party gains determines the number of seats they get in the European Parliament.
In Northern Ireland, the options are ranked in order of preference.
These MEPs then represent a European party that aligns with their own political beliefs. The two most populous parties in the European Parliament are the Socialists & Democrats and the European People’s Party.
Who Can Vote in the Elections?
Everyone, basically, that lives in an EU member country.
Here in the UK we are considered an EU-based entity, for the time being, and so that’s why we are allowed to have our say at the polls.
So, as long as you are 18-years-old and feature on the electoral roll, you can vote in the European Elections of 2019.
There are 12 constituencies based upon the regions, from the North West to the Midlands to the South East, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Why are UK Politicians Taking Part?
The truth is that even if we elect a new set of shiny MEPs, they may not even have the opportunity to take up their seats in the European Parliament.
The prime minister and her team of advisors are still hoping to secure a Brexit deal before the end of June, and if they can then the newly-elected representatives in the EU would essentially be ‘ghost’ MEPs without any power or role in continental politics.
And so the point of it all, as far as the politicians themselves are concerned, is a process of political point scoring.
If the Tories win a lot of seats on the European Parliament, they will consider it a moral victory that their stance on Brexit has paid off – also, it will increase party confidence ahead of a General Election, which may come in 2019 if/when Theresa May resigns.
If Labour do well, they have a genuine reason to celebrate, and Corbyn and co will be able to crow from the rooftops that the party is a viable alternative to the Conservatives.
If the Lib Dems prosper – as they did in the local elections a fortnight ago, then it will be the electorate once again delivering a damning verdict on the main parties.
If right-wing firms such as the Brexit Party succeed, it will be a loud and clear message to all that the UK is serious about leaving the EU….whether 10 Downing Street has received the hint or not.
Don’t forget, if the June deadline for Brexit is missed then the process will roll on until October. So, the MEPs will have sat in parliament for a few months, picked up a nice retainer (MEPs are paid roughly £7,000 per month before tax) and enjoyed some all-expenses paid jollies to Brussels and other nice cities on the European mainland.
From that perspective, it’s a win-win situation for our MPs….but only if their party does well overall at the polls.
Who Will Win the Elections?
There has been plenty of anti-EU sentiment in the run-up to these elections, and that – allied to the probable low voter turnout – means that nationalist parties are likely to succeed once more.
UKIP gained more MEPs than any other UK party in the last round of European elections, and their former leader Nigel Farage is once again expected to succeed with his Brexit Party.
In The Telegraph’s projected results, the Brexit Party sit on 32.3%, Labour on 30.3% and the Conservatives on just 9.7% – their lowest ever share in a major election.