Boris Johnson postpones May elections by one year - but still rules out Brexit delay

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a press briefing on coronavirus. Picture: Simon Dawson/PA Wire.

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a press briefing on coronavirus. Picture: Simon Dawson/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Prime minister Boris Johnson has postponed the May 7 elections until next year because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The local, mayoral and police and crime commission elections will now take place in May 2021.

Ministers had appeared to be pushing on with plans to hold the vote after the Electoral Commission polling watchdog recommended the delay.

But both the Electoral Commission and the Labour Party had called on the PM to take action in delaying the votes until the Autumn.

A government spokeswoman said: 'We will bring forward legislation to postpone local, mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections until May next year.

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'We will also work with the devolved administrations to ensure that they have the necessary powers to do the same.'

The move is the most significant delay to polling since then-prime minister Tony Blair suspended the local and general elections in 2001 over the foot and mouth outbreak.

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Acting Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: 'It is the right decision to delay local elections but it is not clear why the government has decided to delay for a year rather than until autumn as the Electoral Commission advised.'

Meanwhile Johnson is adamant an extension will not be requested and the UK will leave the bloc at the end of the year regardless of the outbreak.

The prime minister's official spokesman dismissed the possibility of an extension when asked at a Westminster briefing on Friday, adding: 'In UK law, a request for an extension is not possible.'

As the coronavirus outbreak worsened, the second round talks were cancelled in their planned form and officials were looking at alternative arrangements including videoconferencing.

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