ConservativeHome can exclusively reveal that, in a letter to candidates sent this afternoon, the Conservative Party has conceded that “we will be contesting the European Elections on 23rd May 2019”.

Inviting applications to stand in the elections, Gareth Fox, CCHQ’s Director of Candidates, requests CVs “by no later than 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday 9 April 2019)”, in order to select candidates in time for the 24th April deadline for formal nominations.

The prospect raises several practical questions – how many candidates will apply for a race which was never meant to happen, and which the government still hopes to cancel; how candidates will be selected democratically in a short space of time; whether the Party has the money to fight such elections; and, if it does, what proportion of the heavily Leave-supporting membership base will actually campaign in them.

To underscore that uncertainty, Fox’s email concludes with the line: “Nevertheless we might find we do not need to proceed with these elections.” Make of that what you will. (UPDATE: An official source says it’s still Government policy to leave in sufficient time to not have to hold the European elections, but the Conservative Party is preparing just in case.)

Here’s the full email:

Dear Candidate

Due to the current situation we will be contesting the European Elections on 23rd May 2019 and the closing date for Nominations is 24th April.

Whilst I have been contacted by some members of the Approved Parliamentary List expressing an interest in being considered, I am keen that everyone on the List who may be interested in standing as a European Candidate has an opportunity to apply.

If you wish to be considered for the European Elections please could I ask you to complete and return the attached Seat CV to [REDACTED] by no later than 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday 9 April 2019). Please ensure you include the Region in which you wish to stand on the Seat CV and include the Region in the subject line of your email.

Due to the short timescale I am sorry that we will not be able to consider your application if received after the deadline.

Nevertheless we might find we do not need to proceed with these elections.

With best wishes.

Gareth Fox

Director of Candidates