The Government has insisted it continues to work “actively” to block proposals to abolish daylight saving time, following reports that officials were backing the change.
The European Commission set out proposals earlier this year for an end to the annual ritual of changing the clocks in the spring and autumn.Member states were asked to decide by April whether to stick with summer time from October 2019 or to make a final change then before staying permanently on winter hours.
It was unclear whether the UK would have to follow the directive after leaving the EU on March 29 and there were concerns that if it did not, Northern Ireland would find itself in a different time zone from the Republic for six months of the year.
Emails released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was in touch with senior officials in Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy over the issue within days of the announcement by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
According to the Daily Mail, one DFE official in Belfast wrote to a colleague: “My impression ... is that officials’ advice is likely to be in favour of adopting British Summer Time all year.”
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Asked about the comment, a UK Government spokesman said: “Ministers are actively working to convince other member states to block this proposal.”
Business minister Lord Henley has repeatedly voiced the UK’s opposition to the proposed change, sending several letters to his counterparts in other EU states setting out London’s concerns.
The UK was among three EU states - alongside Portugal and Greece - to speak out strongly against changing seasonal clock adjustments at a meeting of EU transport ministers in October. A further six countries did not take a stance, with the remaining 19 in favour of ending daylight saving.
There was no immediate response from the Northern Irish Department for the Economy to a request for a response.