UK MEPs to retain their seats for duration of Brexit process

Parliament has moved quickly to clarify the position of British MEPs in the wake of the UK's decision to quit the EU.

European Parliament, Brussels | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

28 Jun 2016

Britain has one of the biggest national delegations and its members are represented in a range of political groupings in Parliament.

However, the referendum result, which saw 51.9 per cent of the electorate to vote to leave the EU, has prompted calls in some quarters for those MEPs who supported a Brexit to stand down.

They include Denis MacShane, a former Europe minister in the UK, who said, "Clearly if Ukip and pro-Brexit Tory MEPs were men of honour they would now be resigning to leave UK MEPs who are not anti-Europeans help the next government save what can be saved."



MacShane, who served under Tony Blair in the 1990s, accused of Brexiteers of winning the referendum on "out-and-out lies" and signalled out Ukip Nigel Farage for criticism.

"Farage should now act with dignity and leave the institution he has constantly denigrated," MacShane told this website.

The UK will retain full EU membership rights for two years while the terms of its departure are negotiated.

On Monday, a Parliament spokesperson told this website, "As long as the UK is a member of the EU it will be entitled to 73 seats in the European Parliament of 751. 

MEPs sit on the European Parliament under a national mandate. It is the member states which notify the European Parliament which MEPs take up the seats."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that top Belgian diplomat Didier Seeuws will be a key player in the EU's 'Brexit Task Force'.

He will reportedly lead the task force that will negotiate the terms and conditions of the UK's withdrawal with British government officials. 

Seeuws has wide experience of the EU and was Herman Van Rompuy's chief of staff while he was President of the European Council. 

He is a former spokesperson for the leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament and  is currently the Director of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy at the European Council.

The more politically sensitive issues to be discussed will be left for senior figures in the British government, Commission and Council.

In the continuing fallout from the referendum, fresh doubt has been cast on the status of the thousands of British nationals currently working for the European institutions. 

It is feared their employment could be under threat once the UK leaves.

EU rules state that you must be the citizen of an EU country to get a job with the EU but are less clear about what happens if that country leaves the EU.

According to the latest figures from Eurostat, 1226 Britons work as European civil servant, 606 men and 520 women. This is 3.8 per cent of the total number of EU civil servants.

Despite last Thursday's result, the website of the United Kingdom's Permanent Representation in Brussels has advertised two jobs, including a full-time, four-year fixed-term contract for a parliamentary officer and for an EU policy officer who will "inform and advise the policymakers in London, and build support for UK positions and ideas."


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