Brexit: Electoral Commission 'making preparations' for European elections
THE Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland has said it is making preparations for the possibility of European elections if Brexit is delayed.
Elections to the European Parliament are due to take place across 27 EU countries in late May, after the UK has left the EU.
The European Parliament is axing most of the UK's seats with a small number allocated to other areas.
There has been speculation that European elections would be extended to the UK if its scheduled EU leave date of March 29 is sufficiently delayed.
EU officials have said the UK can delay Brexit without holding European elections, while the European Commission has urged "caution" over suggestions that May's election plans would have to be changed.
But former Ukip leader and MEP Nigel Farage has said he is ready to fight a European election in May if Brexit is delayed.
Asked whether there are contingency plans for possible European elections, an Electoral Commission spokesman in Northern Ireland said "certain preparations" are being made.
"The Electoral Commission, and the wider electoral community we work with, are experienced in delivering well-run elections and can draw upon this expertise as required," he said.
"As part of our contingency planning, we are making certain preparations that will enable us to swiftly take the necessary action should circumstances change and European Parliamentary elections need to be held.
"Political parties, prospective candidates and other campaigners, along with returning officers and their staff will also be mindful of the actions they may want or need to take in the lead up to any scheduled or unscheduled election, to ensure the electorate is well informed and the poll well run."