top of page
  • youandeu2019

Brexit: How will it affect the May 2019 elections?

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

This blog post is part of a series on Brexit.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on the 29th March this year. What impact might this departure have on the European Parliament elections in May? If Brexit is delayed, will the UK be voting or not? Read below to find out.

Redistributing Seats

At present, the United Kingdom (UK) is represented by 73 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Come March however, this is set to change. As the UK is due to leave the EU on 29th March, these MEPs will be out of a job, and their seats will be partially redistributed across the remaining 27 EU member states.

The UK's 73 seats is no insignificant number: the number of MEP seats a member state has is proportional to population size. With over 66 million people, the UK is one of the largest EU nations. Only Germany and France are larger and this is reflected in the number of MEPs they each have: Germany (population ~83 million people) has 96 MEPs, and France (population ~67 million people) have 74. Italy (population ~60 million) also has 73 seats.

For the May 2019 European Parliament elections, the UK's 73 seats will be partially redistributed across the remaining members (known collectively as the EU27). The below table illustrates how they will be redistributed.

Table 1: Number of MEPs for each EU member state in the 2014 and 2019 European Parliament elections. (Data obtained from European Parliament website:

What if Brexit is delayed?

So far, so good. But what if - as many people predict - Brexit is delayed past the May elections? If the UK were to still lose all their seats as planned, then the UK would (for however short a period of time), remain a member of the EU without any representation. That means they would be members of the union with absolutely no say in how it is run. According to Polish MEP, and member of the Parliament's Brexit Steering Group, Danuta Hübner, denying the UK representation would be a breach of EU treaties and electoral law.

However, if the UK were to get MEPs, that would cause a huge headache for the rest of the EU as the redistribution of the UK's seats has already been decided. More importantly, if the UK had MEPs in the 2019 elections, they would be involved in appointing the EU President. So the UK could potentially have a say in determining the leadership of the union, before leaving soon after.

Before we worry too much about this, we must first consider how likely it is that Brexit will be delayed. So far, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May has maintained that no such delay will happen - she is determined to deliver Brexit on time in March. But she has yet to negotiate a withdrawal agreement that either UK Members of Parliament or the EU will support. What is perhaps more likely then, is that that UK will still leave the EU on 29th March, but with no deal.

Read our other blogs on Brexit to hear about key updates and their implitcations.

This blog post is part of a series on Brexit.

23 views0 comments
bottom of page