After the UK was granted a Brexit extension till October 31st, the UK is set to take part in the European elections next month.

Despite Theresa May being against being involved, she has no choice with the Prime Minister needing more time to try and deliver Brexit.

But what are the EU elections, how do they impact you and why is Britain taking part? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the European Parliament and how long will MEPs represent us?

The European Parliament consists of 751 MEPs - soon to be 705 post-Brexit - who are elected every 5 years.

Based across Europe in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, the European Parliament represents the interests of EU citizens at the European level and abroad. It elects the President of the European Commission and holds the body to account.

READ MORE: Brexit extension: What happens next? Will Theresa May quit? Here's everything you need to know 

Rules recently released by the Electoral Commission set the spending limits for the upcoming EU elections at £45,000 (€52,200) per candidate.

Why is the UK involved in the 2019 European elections?

The reason for this is relatively simple, and that is that the UK remains a member of the EU. one of the conditions of EU leaders giving Britain a Brexit extension until 31 October is that the country is expected to “continue its sincere cooperation” as a member state.


As the UK remains a member, its citizens have a right to be represented in the European Parliament, so if Britain is still part of the EU on May 23, we will need to take part. Failing to do so would be open to a legal challenge.

What do the European elections mean for Brexit?

Much like many things Brexit, it is hard to know exactly how the EU elections will impact the UK. However, if the UK fails to take part in EU elections, they will automatically leave the EU without a deal on June 1.

The European Council outlined this in a document published after the special meeting to discuss extending Article 50. “The European Council underlines that the extension cannot be allowed to undermine the regular functioning of the Union and its institutions.

“If the UK is still a Member of the EU on 23-26 May 2019 and if it has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019, it must hold the elections to the European Parliament in accordance with Union law.

“If the United Kingdom fails to live up to this obligation, the withdrawal will take place on 1 June 2019.”

How do EU Parliament elections work?

With something so complex as the EU, there is no one system in place. All EU citizens who are registered to vote can, but voting methods differ slightly in each country according to laws.

The number of seats available to each country varies depending on the size of the country, with the UK having 73 seats on a population of 66 million, and the likes of Germany having 96 seats with a population of 82 million.

HeraldScotland: European parliament president Antonio TajaniEuropean parliament president Antonio Tajani

READ MORE: In full: Nicola Sturgeon writes to Theresa May following Article 50 extension 

Under a system known as the d’Hondt method, parties put forward a list of candidates who are then elected on a proportional basis,  so if a party obtained 25% of the vote, they should, in theory, obtain 25% of the seats for that country. While the UK has 73 seats, the proportional representation aspect is divided into regions. Scotland sends 6 MEPs, Wales 4, Northern Ireland 3 and England,60.

Here is a list of all the seats in areas of the UK

East Midlands Region – 5 MEPs

Eastern Region – 7 MEPs

London Region – 8 MEPs

North East Region – 3 MEPs

North West Region – 8 MEPs

Northern Ireland – 3 MEPs

Scotland – 6 MEPs

South East Region – 10 MEPs

South West Region – 6 MEPs

Wales – 4 MEPs

West Midlands Region – 7 MEPs

Yorkshire and the Humber – 6 MEPs

How did Scotland vote the last time?

The last time EU elections were held in Scotland, in 2014, the SNP and Labour won 2 seats each, with the Conservatives and UKIP also winning one seat. Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith were elected for the SNP, David Martin and Catherine Stihler (who has now left) were elected for Labour. Ian Duncan was elected for the Scottish Conservatives but left after being given a peerage, and David Coburn took a seat for UKIP at the expense of the Lib Dems.

HeraldScotland: Alyn Smith Alyn Smith

What was the turnout for the last European election in Scotland and across the UK?

The turnout for the last EU election was 35.4% for the UK with a turnout of 33.4% in Scotland. The highest ever turnout was in 12004 with a UK wide turnout of 38.5%.

Since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999, the average turnout for its elections has been 53%. For Westminster elections, the figure is 64%, and for council votes just under 50%. 

If the UK pulls out, what happens to its seats?

Brussels has agreed a redistribution of seats to take place when Brexit happens. The size of the European Parliament would be reduced by 46 to 705 and the remaining 27 seats will be shared out between EU countries, with France and Spain getting five extra MEPs, Italy and the Netherlands three and several other countries one or two. This redistribution could take place even if Brexit happens during the election campaign.

What will happen in the 2019 EU elections?

Much like any election, it is hard to predict, however, some experts are suggesting that Remainers are much more energised to vote in the election. Labour is expected to do well, while the Conservative vote looks set to fall slightly.

Additionally, there is an issue for the EU as 14 member states were due to get additional MEPs when the UK eventually does leave the bloc, but with the UK set to take part in elections, this may not happen.

– How much will it all cost?

The estimated cost of European parliamentary elections in the UK has been given as up to £109 million.