If Britain stays in the European Union in the coming months as part of a long extension to Brexit, it will almost be definitely be required to participate in the European parliamentary elections that is scheduled in late May at a cost that could easily amount to more than £100 million.
According to a report that was published by the UK government, the last European Parliament election that was held in 2014 cost approximately £109 million. This was followed by a £129 million bill for the Brexit referendum that was held in 2016 and then another £141 million for the snap British general election in 2017.
The United Kingdom could soon request a long Brexit extension after the divorce deal of Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, was rejected in the UK parliament for a third time today. Apparently, British members of parliament (MPs) do not like the deal that is presented by PM May, but they also want to avoid a messy no-deal Brexit.
The new default Brexit date is now set to the 12th of April.
After the MPs rejected her deal again, PM May said to them: “The implications … are grave.”
She added: “The European Union has been clear that any further extension will need to have a clear purpose and will need to be agreed unanimously by the heads of the other 27 [EU] member states … It is almost certain to involve the United Kingdom being required to hold European parliamentary elections.”
Earlier this week, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, called on the European Parliament to be open-minded regarding the idea of a long Brexit extension.
In a speech, Tusk stated: “You cannot betray the six million people who signed the petition to revoke Article 50, the one million people who marched for a People’s Vote, or the increasing majority of people who want to remain in the European Union.” He also tweeted a similar message.
The majority of the cost of the most recent European parliamentary election in the United Kingdom went to pay for things such as printed ballots, polling stations, postal votes, and the cost of sending out candidate flyers through Royal Mail. According to a 2016 government report, nearly £41 million went to the Royal Mail to deliver all the candidate mailings.
In the United Kingdom, a total of 46.5 million people were registered and were eligible to vote in the said election, however, only 16.5 million cast their votes. That means that the cost worked out to almost £6.60 per individual who exercised their right to vote.
As for the Brexit referendum in 2016, the cost of administering the polls reached almost £95 million, which included the cost of running more than 40,000 polling stations and counting the votes. More than £25 million was spent on mailing costs.
The snap election held in 2017 had higher costs for administering the polls and mailing out the material to the voters.