Brexit: What will happen to Britain's MEPs?

EU referendum result spells the end for the UK's representatives in Brussels – but not just yet

EU Referendum
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Brexit has become a reality, with 52 per cent of the country voting to leave the European Union. So what happens to Britain's 73 Members of European Parliament (MEPs)?

When will Britain's MEPs leave?

Without a hard timeline in place for Britain's disentanglement from the union, it's impossible to say exactly when the nation's EU parliamentarians will be heading home.

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The next MEP elections take place in 2019. There has been no official word on whether Britain's representatives will depart before then, but with a proposed withdrawal period of two years, they will almost certainly not be around to contest their seats.

But for now, it seems the UK's MEPs aren't going anywhere. Despite the political and economic turmoil which has seen the pound plummet and David Cameron resign as prime minister, they are still elected officials with a job to do.

"For the time being, the British MEPs and the British Commissioner should stay," German MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff told Euronews. They "are obliged to represent the pan-European interest, not just the British interest," he added.

Labour MEP Richard Corbett predicts the UK's representatives will continue to vote on matters affecting the EU budget while the country is still a contributor, but will abstain on votes concerning the future of the union.

What are British MEPs saying about the results?

Reaction to the referendum results from Britain's MEPs was more diverse than might be expected among a group of people staring unemployment in the face. Many Ukip and Tory representatives openly rejoiced at the prospect of clearing their desks in Brussels.

East of England Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman said he was "stunned and delighted" with the result.

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Ukip's David Coburn, one of Scotland's MEPs, was also celebrating the news that he would soon be surplus to requirements.

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But other representatives were not taking the news so well. Labour's North-East of England MEP Paul Brannen called the vote a "catastrophic mistake" and warned that the worst is yet to come.

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Glenis Willmott, MEP for the East Midlands and Labour leader in the European Parliament, tweeted she was "heartbroken."

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