Eurosceptics in EU parliament could slow UK's post-Brexit trade deals: report

PUBLISHED: 10:51 07 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:51 07 May 2019

EU expert Anand Menon has released a report on the EU elections via think tank EU in a changing Europe. Photograph: BBC.

EU expert Anand Menon has released a report on the EU elections via think tank EU in a changing Europe. Photograph: BBC.

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Post-Brexit trade deals could be slowed by a "fragmented and polarised" EU parliament after the UK's EU elections, a report has warned.

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The outcome of the EU elections will “feed back into the Brexit process itself”, said professor Anand Menon in the introduction to the European Elections and Brexit, a report published by think tank the UK in a Changing Europe.

“Should, for instance, the Brexit Party gain a large number of seats this may change the incentives of European leaders when deciding about whether to prolong British membership,” he said.

“A more fragmented and polarised Parliament might slow down the process of agreeing any a future trade deal.

“What is more, a new Parliament composed of a larger number of eurosceptics and critics of globalisation will hardly make the approval of any such deal with the UK any easier.”

The ESRC-funded think tank aims to improve access to research on the relationship between the UK and the EU.

The EU elections are going to be inaccurately read by many as a proxy Brexit referendum, whether we like it or not, added the report.

Yet it claimed that the election is a far from perfect way to read public opinion on Brexit.

“Turnout will be key,” said Menon in a series of tweets about the report. “If biggest jumps in voter turnout between 2014 and 2019 are in areas that voted disproportionately Remain, that would suggest relative enthusiasm among Remain voters.”

READ: Government urged to extend voter registration deadline for European elections

READ: Less than 0.01% of EU citizens' voter forms received due to election 'havoc', say MPs

The report looks at the likely impacts of the elections - on the UK's politics, the EU, and the future relation between the two.

“After some 40 years of membership during which hardly any attention was paid to European elections, we finally have one about which people care,” said Menon.

“Ironically, it's an EU election taking place after we were meant to have left, and potentially soon before we will in fact leave.”

There's no guarantee that the elected MEPs will even take up their seats, yet they could have considerable influence on how the EU is shaped, and how it handles Brexit, before their job becomes obsolete.

“It remains far from certain any of those elected will ever make the journey on the Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels as members of the European Parliament,” said Menon.

“We face the prospect of British MEPs tilting the balance of power in a certain direction for long enough to shape key decisions, while giving up their seats before the consequences of those decisions become clear,” said Menon.

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