Brexit timeline

Preparing for Brexit - a timeline of events since the referendum

A chronological guide - a guide :  tourism, life,  culture,  institutions

UPDATED October 2020
When UK voters chose on 23rd June 2016, by a small majority, to take Britain out of the European Union, some  imagined that it would be a quick and simple process. By contrast, experts and politicians knew very well that extricating the UK from the EU would be long, difficult and contentious. The word "Brexit" itself meant different things for different people, even among the leaders of the "Leave" campaign.  For some it just meant liberating the UK from the power of Brussels, while continuing a free trade agreement with the EU – the "soft Brexit" option demanded by industry and the financial sector;  but other Brexiteers were dreaming of a "hard Brexit", tearing up all agreements with the EU, including those concerning the "Single market".  Since becoming Prime Minister Theresa May has been trying to satisfy both the hard Brexiteers and the soft Brexiteers at the same time. It is an impossible task, Brexit remains undefined, and the Government is divided.
   The aim of this page is to provide a clear and concise chronological record of the main events since the Brexit referendum of June 23rd 2016. This timeline is in reverse-chronological order, with the latest events at the top of the page.

The bumpy road to Brexit

Latest News: October 2020 - Towards no deal ?

Negotiations between Britain and the UK, aimed at reaching a deal over the UK's trading relations with the UK, came officially to an end on 15th October – with no deal having been reached. Johnson insists that the EU must make more concessions over fishing and the "level playing field" (the requirement that UK manufactures do not benefit from special aid or reduced standards that will allow them to undercut EU manufacturers). While negotiations are officially over, they are continuing in the background since both Britain and the EU want a deal... on their terms.
   It remains to be seen if a deal can be rescued from this turmoil. An opinion poll in the UK showed that 64% of the population do not want the UK to leave the EU without a deal; and British business leaders are forthright in their demands that a deal should be reached. Support for the whole Brexit process in the UK continues to fall, and the proportion of voters in favour of Brexit has fallen to 39% according to a Yougov poll carried out in September. It is expected to fall even further if negotiations really do come to an end.
   Severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the British economy does not need the extra damage that will be inflicted by a no-deal Brexit. Even with a deal, virtually all analysts agree that Brexit will have a negative impact on the British economy; and according to the UK government's own predictions, a No-Deal Brexit will have an impact of around -7% (depending on the scenario)  on the UK's GDP  (Web). 

January 31st 2020 - Britain leaves the EU

Britain left the EU on 31st January 2020, entering a transition period due to last until 31st December. During the transition period, the UK remains a member of the EU single market and subject to EU law. During this period, the UK and the EU will work together to reach an agreement on Britain's trade with Europe from 1st. January 2021 onwards. If no agreement can be reached, the UK will leave the EU with "no deal".  It is clear that there is not a majority in the UK in favour of "no deal", and Boris Johnson himself reassured voters in the UK in 2019 that the chances of "no deal" were a million to one against.

December 14th 2019 - Boris Johnson wins pro-Brexit parliamentary majority

In the December 2019 General Election,  boris Johnson led the Conservative Party to an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons, thus guaranteeing that the UK will finally leave the European Union. With the simple message "Get Brexit done", Johnson positioned the Conservatives as the Party of Brexit, while the anti-Brexit vote was split over most of the opposition parties.
  The Conservatives' large majority was gained with only 43.6% of the vote ; but that is how the UK electoral system works.
   Britain will now leave the European Union on 31st January 2020.
    That however is just the start. On Feb 1st, Britain will enter the "transition period" during which, basically, nothing changes. the UK will continue to abide by EU rules and regulations, and continue to pay into the EU budget, while negotiators work out the future trading relations between the UK and the EU, and sort out a whole raft of other questions that need to be settled.
    Boris Johnson maintains that everything will be sorted out by the end of 2020, after which Britain and the EU will go their own way. Most experts in Britain and the EU believe that working our an acceptable trade deal and other deals will take a lot longer than that, and that the UK will remain aligned with the EU for some time to come.
    The alternative is for the UK to fully leave the EU at the end of 2020 without a deal – an outcome favoured by many on the neo-liberal hard right, but more generally considered to be a disastrous outcome for the UK if it should happen.
    The question of Brexit has not gone away; Brexit is not yet "done", and many seruious arguments threaten to divide opinions, even within Boris Johnson's New Conservative party,in the coming months and years.

October 29, 2019 - Parliamentary Elections called for December 12.
The future of Brexit will depend on the result.

The British Parliament has voted to hold a General Election on 12 December. This will probably be the most unpredictable election, as well as the most important election, in modern times. While the Conservatives are currently leading in the opinion polls, with about 35% of voting intentions against 24% for the Labour Party, nobody is willing to predict how this difference will actually play out  in terms of seats, as national percentages hide large differences from one region to another.
   Essentially, elections will be held around the question of Brexit. If the Conservatives come out of the elections with a working majority, Brexit will take place on January 31, or even before. If Labour, the Liberal Democrats and other anti-Brexit parties (Scottish Nationalists, Welsh Nationalists and Greens) win enough seats to form a coalition government,  Brexit will be rapidly revoked or a second referendum will be held.
   In the next 7 weeks, many things will change; but one fundamental thing is likely to be different after December 12, and that is the electoral geography of Great Britain. For a hundred years the Labour Party has been particularly strong in the industrial north of Great Britain, where today people are  most in favour of Brexit. In regions of the south of England, with a strong conservative tradition, voters are mostly against Brexit. So on December 12, it looks likely that many constituencies in the north of England will change from red to blue, while in the south they will change from blue to the orange of the Liberal Democrats, or even to the red of Labor. The overall result will depend essentially on whether the Conservatives win more in the north than they lose in the south, or the reverse, and the extent of their losses in Scotland.

Supreme Court rules that Johnson's suspension of Parliament was unlawful

Update : 24 September 2019.  The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he announced the suspension of Parliament, on 28th August. The panel of 11 judges on the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Prime Minister gave false information to the Queen when he asked her to suspend Parliament for five weeks, and that for this reason the Suspension of Parliament is unlawful, null and void.
  This means that Parliament has not been suspended, and that MPs can resume their normal business as soon as possible.
  A ruling of this nature is unprecedented in British political history. No Prime Minister in modern times has ever been found guilty of misleading the monarch, and abusing his powers in this way.  

Boris Johnson suspends parliament 

Update : 28 August 2019.  In an unprecedented move, prime minister Boris Johnson has announced that Parliament will be suspended for four weeks from mid September.
   While a new government has an uncontested right to suspend parliament while it prepares a new parliamentary session, Johnson's announcement is seen as a deliberate attempt to muzzle Parliament for as much time as possible in the runup to the Brexit date of 31st October,  and has attracted a whirlwind of of condemnation from across the United Kingdom.
  Former Conservative deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine just emailed friends and supporters , and his words are damning.  
  " I am appalled by the government's announcement. The government's decision to suspend parliament in order to force through a No Deal Brexit is a constitutional outrage.
   A government which is frightened of parliament is frightened of democracy. I hope that every member of parliament in feeling this humiliation will use every legal and constitutional weapon to obstruct a government proposing to force on the British people a historic change for which they have long since lost any mandate. 
   To abandon parliamentary scrutiny is a constitutional affront. My party, the one I have worked for all my life, told the British people about the new role that Britain could play in the world. Britain has helped to change Europe from Fascist and Communist dictatorships to Parliamentary democracies. And now I am told by the leader and the cabinet of that same party that we were all wrong – that we now must become some subordinate vassal state to the United States."
 And this comes  from a leading figure in Boris Johnson's own Conservative Party.

  Johnson has chosen confrontation. It remains to be see where this will lead to.  Brexit will remain strongly in the news for the foreseeable future; , but more than that very little is sure. However  one thing that is quite sure is that whether Brexit happens on 31st October or not, it is going to dominate political and social debate in the UK for a long time to come.  
   Brexit has by now done incomparable damage to the United Kingdom and to its people; and that is before it has happened

Boris Johnson takes over 

Update : 24 July 2019.  Boris Johnson is now Prime Minister of the UK, and has started  by enthusiastically repeating his promise to take the UK out of the European Union by 31st October.  To show his determination, he has packed his Cabinet (his Administration) with right-wing Eurosceptics, in spite of his pledge to run a government that represents all aspects of modern Britain.
  There was a lot of fiery rhetoric in his first declarations as Prime Minister; but as commentators in the media have been quick to point out, fiery rhetoric and ambition are good when it comes to winning the confidence of your supporters, but they are not necessarily the keys to success. Johnson will have an easy ride with his supporters, at least during the initial weeks, but after that, reality will prevail, as he  faces hostility in Parliament, even from parts of his own party, and firmness from the EU. While Boris may wish to rip up Theresa May's Agreement and start anew, the EU has repeatedly stressed that this is not an option. Furthermore, with only three months to go until Boris's intended "B-Day" of 31st October, working out a new deal is just not an option.
  So will the UK crash out of the EU on 31st October with "no deal", or does Boris Johnson have other plans?
  It is still by no means certain that Brexit will take place on 31st October, whatever Boris Johnson keeps repeating: indeed, it remains possible that Brexit may not happen at all. This option cannot be ruled out, as all opinion polls now show that there is no longer a majority in the UK for leaving the European Union.

Update : 19 July 2019.  The process to elect the next leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore the next Prime Minister, is almost over, and the winner is expected to be Boris Johnson. During his election campaign, Boris appealed to the right-wing of the Conservative Party by promising to deliver Brexit on 31st October with or without a deal. He also suggested that he was ready to close down Parliament (by constitutional means) in order to stop MPs blocking a "no-deal" Brexit.
  But British MPs have reacted strongly, and voted to stop the next Prime Minister "proroguing" (shutting) Parliament in the days leading up to a final Brexit decision. By a majority of 41 votes, the House of Commons has sent a strong warning to the next Prime Minister that he cannot enact a no-deal Brexit without letting Parliament vote on it. Many MPs, and people in general, stress that proroguing parliament in order to enact a highly controversial measure such as Brexit, would be anti-constitutional... even in a country like the UK which does not have a written  constitution.
  Parliament has already voted against a "no-deal " Brexit, so the next Prime Minister would be in direct conflict with his own Parliament if he were to do so..
  In further news, the government's official but independent economic advisers have warned that the UK will go into recession if a "no-deal" Brexit goes ahead.
  Opinion polls also show that a majority of voters in the UK now want to remain in the European Union and stop Brexit all together.

Theresa May resigns as Prime Minister 

Update : 24 May 2019. Theresa May has announced her resignation as Prime Minister on 7th June. She will stay on after that for as long as is needed for the Conservative Party to find a replacement. The current favourite is Boris Johnson.
  May is resigning because she has been unable to find a solution to the Brexit crisis.
  That is not surprising, given that Britain, the Conservative government, the Cabinet and Parliament are all deeply divided over the question of Brexit. At all levels, there are some who are strongly in favour of Brexit, and others who are vehemently against it.
   And with a third strongly in favour of Brexit, a third strongly against it, and a third undecided, finding a compromise that will please everyone is an impossible task. May tried and failed; and failed repeatedly.
   Her successor is not likely to have any more success.
   There is no satisfactory solution to this crisis. May tried for consensus, a middle-of-the-road soft Brexit that might unite people from both sides. In the end it united nobody except the middle third of "undecided". It displeased two thirds of her party, of Parliament, and of the people; for those in favour of Brexit it was too little,  and for those opposed to it it was too much.
   Her successor may go for a "hard Brexit"... but that too will displease two thirds of people in Britain and in Parliament. Parliament has already voted against a hard Brexit. And Parliament will reject it again, as long as Parliament is consulted.
   Alternatively May's successor may decide to cancel Brexit. That will certainly displease a third of the people and maybe displease up to two thirds of the people. 
   Brexit has done immense damage to the UK, to politics in general, and to the European Union. The next British Prime Minister, whoever he/she is, will not be able to solve the problem any more satisfactorily than Theresa May.

   But a solution has to be found. Logically the only solution that will provide a clear-cut end to the chaos of Brexit is to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit.  That will provide a clear-cut end to the problem, it will put an end to the intense economic uncertainty that is starting to bite hard, and it will probably please more than half the people in Britain.  However it will greatly anger the brexiteering third of the population, it will not end the arguments, and it will not solve the problems of the Conservative party.
   Furthermore, rational logic has not been one of the great features of the Brexit debate since 2016, particularly on the Brexiteer side of the arguments.  Quite the opposite.
   Brexit has done enormous damage to the UK, and there is absolutely no easy way out.
Perhaps the least catastrophic way out would be if the Conservatives were to choose a hard Brexiteer (such as Boris Johnson) to succeed Theresa May, and that this hard Brexiteer Prime Minister then decided, for the good of the nation, to cancel Brexit. The hard-liners of Nigel Farage's would be infuriated and cry "betrayal", the right-wing Daily Express would go into meltdown, but maybe an exit from Brexit, engineered in this way, would attract support from two thirds of the population and Parliament.  A clear majority..... and an opportunity for the next Prime Minister to claim the credit for saving the UK from Brexit.

  Update 15th Jan 2019

Parliament votes

The British Parliament today votes on whether to accept or reject the "Brexit Deal" that Mrs. May has negotiated with the EU. Parliament is likely to reject this deal.. For Brexit hard-liners, the deal leaves the UK still too closely tied to the EU; for those who want to remain in the EU, it leaves Britain in a situation that has no advantages compared to its current situation as a member of the EU - and many disadvantages.
   A rejection of the deal by Parliament could open the doors to a second referendum, to let "the people" decide whether to continue with Brexit, and if so how.

Update 21st December 2018

Brexit and democracy

British Prime minister Theresa May keeps repeating that there will be no second referendum. A second referendum would be a "betrayal of democracy", she says.  The British people have voted for Brexit, so it must now go ahead.
  But that is not democracy. Democracy is a system in which people are given the periodic opportunity to change their minds, and Theresa May has in the past been quite happy to ask people to change their minds when she thought it would be to her advantage.
  She did not say it was "undemocratic" to give British voters the opportunity to change their minds when she called an unnecessary general election in 2017, just two years after the previous general election in 2015. On the contrary, she wanted them to change their minds, and give her a stronger majority in Parliament. In the end, they changed their minds in the wrong direction, and she lost her parliamentary majority instead of increasing it. But that is not the point.

 It is time now to let British voters or at least the Briish Parliament vote again on Brexit, with the option to cancel it; becuse when it comes to Brexit,  a lot of British voters have changed their minds. And a majority of British voters now want a second referendum.
  All the economic evidence shows that even a mild form of Brexit will damage the UK's economy and its status in the world. And a "no-deal" Brexit will be a seismic disaster.
   At last public opinion in Britain has begun to understand this. A YouGov poll conducted in Mid December suggested that if there is a second referendum, Britons will now vote by a large majority to remain in the EU ( 59% remain, 41 % Leave, excluding undecided voters).
  If the British government still takes the UK into Brexit without giving Parliament or the people an opportunity to stop the madness before it is too late, that will be a betrayal of democracy, and will cause turmoil in Britain for many years to come.

Update 11th December 2018

Parliament's Brexit vote postponed....
The House of Commons should have voted today to accept or reject Theresa May's Brexit deal. But yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that the vote will not take place. Not yet, at least.  
  Mrs. May canceled the vote in Parliament because it was absolutely clear that Parliament would not accept her Brexit deal.
  She will now have even more conversations with the EU, to try and get some changes to the deal that has taken over two years to negotiate; but it is unlikely that she will get any significant changes. The EU has said that the deal cannot be renegotiated.
  So what happens now ?  
  Noone knows.
  More and more people - including members of Mrs May's government - are now convinced that the only way for the government to get out of this mess  will be through a second referendum, a "People's vote". It was a referendum that put Britain into this chaotic situation; so logically it is only a second referendum that can logically overturn the result - or confirm the result - of the first one.
  MPs of all parties are now calling for a new referendum, and hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated in London to demand that a second referendum takes place. Opinion polls show that in the event of a new referendum, the British people will probably overturn the result of the 2016 referendum, and do so by a clear margin.
   As far back as September, a poll carried out by NatCen showed that  59 per cent of British voters would now vote to remain in the EU, against 41 who still want to leave the EU.

15th November 2018  

Four more ministers resign

Although the Cabinet last night "supported" Theresa May's Brexit deal, today four more ministers, including Dominic Raab, Britain's chief Brexit negotiator, have resigned.  In the House of Commons, MPs of all parties - including the Conservatives - lined up to criticise the deal, but May is sticking to her guns.
  However  in the Commons  May set out the options that are now open : "We can choose to leave with no deal... risk no Brexit at all... or unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated" .
Clearly there are now three possible outcomes, even for the Prime Minister, and "No Brexit" is one of them.
All recent opinion polls in the UK now show that a good majority of British voters want Brexit to be stopped. The Prime Minister know this, so does everyone else.
A second referendum now looks like the only way out of this absurd problem.
The big question now is perhaps not if but when.  Not "Will Theresa May decide in the end to call a second referendum?", but "How long can she continue refusing to call for a second referendum?"

13th November 2018  

May announces that a deal has been struck on the terms of Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May announces that Britain and the EU have finally reached agreement on the terms of a Brexit deal. At last.
It is now the beginning of the end for Brexit, but what will that end be?  
   There are two likely possibilities.

Negotiating a deal with the EU has perhaps been the easiest of May's tasks; getting that deal approved by her Cabinet, then ratified by Parliament and accepted by the British people will be much harder.
   The deal that has been reached with Brussels is a compromise that does not satisfy either the hard-line Brexiters on the right of the Conservative party, nor those who remain hostile to the very idea of Brexit. May has already lost half a dozen ministers, including anti and pro Brexiters, and she will need to be something of a magician to get the package through the Cabinet, then through Parliament, then past public opinion.
   It will be extremely hard, as the compromise deal that has been reached with Brussels is seen as a capitulation by the hard-line Brexiteers in the Government, in Parliament and outside it, so they are strongly against it.  As for the anti-Brexiters, they too are strongly against it, as the deal is seen as a sort of "BRINO" (BRexit In Name Only), which will leave Britain considerably worse off than it would be if it remained in the EU. In the BRINO scenario, the UK will remain in an indefinite (read permanent) Customs Union with the EU, and will continue abiding by European rules and standards in trade and many other areas, but - having left the EU - will no longer take part in determining its rules.
  Remaining in the Customs Union is logically the only realistic way of solving the Irish problem, which is to ensure that there is no return to a hard border (with border guards and customs checks) between Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland, which remains a member of the European Union.
   Thus two scenarios are possible: either Theresa May succeeds, which will be little short of a miracle; or she fails, in which case Britain's constitutional crisis deepens, and there are only two logical  ways out for the Prime Minister. Either she calls a General election, or she calls a second Referendum.  She has already announced quite firmly that she has no intention of doing either. However it should be remembered that in 2016 she was firmly ruling out calling a snap General Election, but then did so.
   Of the two options, calling a second Referendum is logically the least worst path for Theresa May to take. Millions of people in Britain, including some Conservative MPs, want a second referendum, and polls now show that a clear majority of voters in the UK want to stop Brexit. The "Exit from Brexit" movement has gained huge momentum.

   Questioned last week by, a senior economist who advises ministers in the UK government and in the EU suggested that the odds on Brexit being abandoned have now fallen to just 5%.  This seems to be the official view. The unofficial view is that the odds on Brexit being abandoned have just jumped to at least 50%.

9th July 2018  3 pm.

Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign secretary, has also resigned.

Britain's Foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has followed David Davis and resigned from Theresa May's government. The British government and the Conservative Party are in chaos. Impossible to predict what the future holds either for Theresa May or for Brexit. A leadership challenge could see Mrs. May ousted as Prime Minister, but replaced by who ? A hard-line pro-Brexit Prime Minister will not be able to gather enough support in his party or in parliament, and his government would soon collapse. If Mrs. May were to be threatened, she could call another General Election or a second referendum before going.
  The probability of another General Election or a second referendum is increasing by the hour.  So too is the spectre of the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal. Paradoxically, it is this that makes the cancellation of Brexit more and more probable, as there are very few people in the UK – and not many even in the Conservative party – whowould want that.
  It's just a pity that the Labour Party is not an effective opposition, and is almost as divided over Brexit as the Conservatives are.

9th July 2018  11 am.

Britain's chief Brexit negotiator, David Davis, has resigned

The man in charge of Britain's negotiations with the EU - Britain's counterpart to Michel Barnier - has resigned. The man who claimed that negotiating Brexit would be an easy job has walked out , leaving Theresa May's Conservative party in even greater crisis.  The likelihood of Brexit being cancelled by a second referendum or by the British parliament increases by the day.

7th July 2018

Theresa May secures a compromise deal that unites her cabinet.... at least for the time being.

At the end of a day of arduous discussions with her ministers, at her country residence "Chequers" near London, Theresa May has managed to unite her cabinet behind a compromise position on Brexit. At last, two years after the referendum, it is starting to become clear what the British government actually wants... or believes that it can maybe negotiate. A very soft Brexit.... almost a BRINO (BRexit In Name Only), meaning that the UK will remain aligned with the EU on trade in goods, but not on services. 

Yet it is by no means sure that this is what will happen. 
The hard-line right-wing Brexiteers in her cabinet and in the Conservative party think that this solution is too soft; and it is not at all certain that either the EU or the British parliament will accept this proposed deal.

If everyone does however, in the end, agree on this “soft” form of Brexit… with the UK remaining technically aligned with the EU for some things but not for others, but no longer having any representatives in the European parliament, or in the European commission (since the UK will have left the EU), then it is very difficult to see what will have been gained. 

In exchange for the ability to block some kinds of “immigration” from the EU (including vital employees for many parts of the British economy and public services), the UK will have given up its seat and its influence at the heart of Europe. Many will think that the UK will have lost a lot more than it gains.

For these reasons, there will now be more and more pressure from many sources in the UK to stop Brexit altogether. The “Chequers” compromise – too soft for the hard-liners, pointless for the “Remainers” – is not going to please many in the world of politics or business. This was completely predictable. So Theresa May is going to have a very hard job trying to reach agreement with the EU on proposals that few decision-makers in the UK actually support.

This increases the likelihood that either Brexit will be abandoned, or else no agreement with the EU will be reached, and that the UK will then crash out of the EU without any deal…. or else that there will be a second referendum, before one or the other of these scenarios takes place.

According to a Survation opinion poll published on June 22, British voters would now choose by 53% to 47% to remain in the EU.

2nd March 2018 .
Theresa May delivered another keynote speech on Brexit, outlining the Brexit result that she wants to achieve.  The speech at last began to accept that it is inevitable that Britain will not get the Brexit deal that the "ultras" are wanting, and that "both sides" will need to make concessions, but it still suggested that Britain will be able to get a good deal, and will still be able to choose selectively the areas for which free trade will continue as today between the UK and the EU.
  On the other hand, it completely failed to clarify how the UK plans to solve the intractible issue of the land border between the Republic of Ireland (an EU member state) and Northern Ireland.
   Both the Irish government and the British government are, in theory, committed to ensuring that  no "hard border" gets reestablished between the two parts of Ireland, and that goods and people can continue to flow freely between the two countries. But if the UK leaves the EU, the Single Market and the Customs Union, the reappearance of a hard border is an inevitable consequence.  The EU cannot allow the Republic of Ireland to be used as an open back door for the undeclared and untaxed entry of goods from outside the EU - including goods that do not comply with EU quality or safety regulations; and the UK will not want to let Ireland be used as a back door into Britain for immigration from the EU and beyond. So the reappearance of some kind of border is inevitable – taking Ireland 18 years back in time, to before the Good Friday agreement, which, more than anything else, brought an end to 70 years of conflict in Ireland and Ulster.
  It now appears that the British government recognises that the UK will actually be poorer after Brexit than before it, and that parts of the UK economy will suffer. Britain will be willing to maintain "regulatory alignment" with the UK is many sectors, to ensure that trade between the UK and the EU remains as easy as possible; but some rights will be lost, and some sectors, including the all-important financial sector of the City of London, will lose access to some European markets.
   If a deal can be reached under these terms, it will satisfy no-one. A "Brexit-lite", if it can be agreed, will not satisfy the hard-line Brexiteers, and it will not satisfy those who are still campaigning for Brexit to be stopped. Instead of reducing bureaucracy, it will multiply it, with the reintroduction of declarations for importers and exporters, and the disruption of supply-chains.
   Opinion polls now show that there is now a majority of people in the UK who, if asked to vote again on Brexit, would vote to stop it. However, in the absence of any coordinated opposition in Parliament and in the country, the British government carries on with this act of national self-harm.
   Now that the Prime Minister herself has admitted that the UK will not be better off after Brexit, it is difficult to understand why - other than for reasons of ideology and internal party politics - the British Government does not decide to call the whole adventure off. There is still time... but it is running out fast.

27th August 2017 .
At last the Labour Party makes a clear policy statement on Brexit, and one that is different from the position of the Conservative party. Labour want the UK to stay in the European Single Market and the Customs Union in a "transitional period" following the implementation of Brexit. A period of four years has been suggested... though some Labour MPs want more, and even permanent membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union after Brexit.
  Since this would amount to the UK having the advantages and many of the costs of EU membership without being able to take part in the working of the EU, nor taking part in the EU decision-making process, Labour's new position looks like a possible first step towards coming out clearly against Brexit. 
   Reaffirming Labour's earlier anti-Brexit position would be another way of positioning the Labour Party as a clear opposition to the Conservatives who, under Theresa May, are seen as the pro-Brexit party. With anti-Brexit sentiment growing in the UK, with anti-Brexit movements planning major mobilisation in the Autumn, with the reality of an impending Brexit beginning to hurt the UK economy and living standards, Autumn 2017 will be a pivotal season. Few commentators are willing to rule out the possibility of another general election, or even another referendum, within the coming twelve months.

9th May 2017 .
Theresa May had called an unnecessary general election in order to get a stronger majority for her government in Parliament. She failed.
  Instead the Conservatives remain the largest party in Parliament, but they lost seats, and no longer have an absolute majority. While this is unlikely to stop the Brexit process, it significantly changes the balance of power within the UK. The "hard Brexit" that May seemed to be planning now looks less probable. It now looks more likely that the UK will decide to remain in the European Single Market... but the road ahead towards Brexit is now less clear than it ever has been, and at this point in time, predictions are pointless. A thick fog covers the road to Brexit, and noone can  see what is ahead. Almost anything could happen.
Election result, details and analysis   British general election 2017

18th April 2017 .
In a move that caught everyone, including her own party, by surprise, Theresa May announced a snap general election in the UK for 8th June.    Details and analysis   British general election 2017

29th March 2017 .
Theresa May officially signifies to the EU that Britain is invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, initiating a two year period of negotions prior to Britain leaving the European Union.  Although in both houses of Parliament there are a majority of members who are personally voted against leaving the EU, neither House had the stomach to stand up to the Government's determination to take the UK out of the European Union and out of the Single Market.

21st February 2017 .
The House of Lords is debating the Bill to take the UK out of the EU.  
   Meanwhile a man who may well be the next French president, Emmanuel Macron, was in London, where he invited banks, talent, researchers and academics to move to France.

17th February 2017 .
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair declared his mission to persuade the UK to stay in the EU, calling for those who are against Brexit to “rise up in defence of what we believe”. Blair's speech was seen as a criticism of tyhe current Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who told Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50.  

26th January 2017 .
the House of Commons debated the bill to allow the government to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, to take the UK out of the EU.  Althouth, before the referendum, two thirds of MPs supported remaining in the EU, only just over 100 finally voted against triggering Article 50. They included just one Conservative MP, veteran pro-EU campaigner Ken Clark. The bill next has to go to the House of Lords, before returning for a second reading in the Commons.

24th January 2017 .
Judges in the The UK's Supreme Court have ruled that the British Government cannot trigger Article 50 without the authorisation of Parliament.
  Although, before the referendum, a large majority of MPs were against leaving the European Union, it is probable that only a minority will vote against triggering Article 50. All Scottish Nationalist MPs and Liberal Democrat MPs are expected to vote against triggering Article 50, but Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that Labour will not vote against it.
   A number of Labour MPs are expected to defy the official party line, and vote against Article 50. It remains to be seen if any Conservative MPs who campaigned strongly against Brexit will also vote against their own government.
   The bill to trigger Article 50 must also be passed by the House of Lords; while the debate in the Lords is likely to be divisive, it is unlikely that the Lords would vote against the government on this issue.

18th January 2017
Following Theresa May's assertion that the UK will leave the European Single Market, major UK international bank HSBC announces plans to move 1,000 staff from London to Paris when Brexit comes into effect. And HSBC is a British bank. Most of the major banks and financial companies operating in London are not British. Quoting a report by consultancy firm Oliver Wyman, Reuters suggest that 75,000 jobs may disappear and the government may lose up to 10 billion pounds in tax revenue.

17th January 2017 - May sets out her view of Brexit.
In a much-anticipated speech, Theresa May has provided a little more clarity regarding the Brexit deal that she hopes to achieve. To the delight of her hard-liners, she ruled out remaining in the European Single Market and signaled that Britain cannot remain in the European customs union either. However, sounding conciliatory, she repeated her intention of working to ensure that British businesses have the fullest possible access to the European market, and European business have the same access to UK markets, thanks to some sort of new free trade deal with the European Union. She even envisaged that the UK would continue to participate in certain European programmes, contributing to specific European budgets.
    Significantly - though the full significance of this may perhaps only become apparent later - she also announced that Parliament will have to vote on any Brexit deal, before it can be enacted.
   The proposals went down well with her supporters and with those who want the UK to be completely free of the European Union; but political opponents and voices in the media were quick to point out that Britain is unlikely to get the kind of deal that Mrs. May outlined, given that any deal will also have to be approved by the European Union and by all other 27 remaining countries.  While EU negotiator Michel Barnier expressed satisfaction that there is now a little more clarity, and that Britain wants to work for a good positive relationship with the EU, other commentators were less impressed.
   Mrs. May's objectives contain a number of still irreconcilable ideas. For instance, it remains unclear how it will be possible to keep freedom of movement between the Irish republic - part of the EU - and Northern Ireland, without reintroducing a "hard border", which May has ruled out.
   Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon reacted forcefully to the speech, claiming that leaving the single Market will be bad for Scotland. Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, along with Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron,  feared that Mrs. May will be unable to get the "good for Britain" deal that she is so confindent about, and that the UK will end up with a bad deal, or no deal at all, which could be particularly bad for ordinary working people.
   Mrs. May had earlier warned people in Europe against trying to "punish" the UK for Brexit, claiming that if no acceptable deal with the EU can be found, the UK could slash taxes on businesses to well below EU levels, to lure international business to Britain.  On closer inspection, this however seems a hollow threat, given the UK's current balance of payments deficit, and that many public services, notably the Health Service and the road network, are seriously underfunded.  Taxes in the UK have already been reduced considerably in the past thirty years, and in many sectors there is  no scope for further cutbacks or "efficiency savings" as they are benignly called. Serious cuts to business taxes would need to be balanced  either by another big reduction in public services and their funding, or by higher taxes on people and services – and neither of these would go down well with ordinary people, most particularly with those who voted for Brexit in the first place.
   As January 17th draws to a close, the Brexit hard-liners are feeling happy. It is unlikely to last for long.  May's vision of a good friendly deal for the UK as a partner with the EU looks good; but getting a deal means concessions. Whatever deal the UK can negotiate with the European Union, it will not be exactly the rosy cherry-picking arrangement that the supporters of a hard Brexit are dreaming of.  In the end, Britain needs the EU far more than the EU needs Britain.  44% of Britain's exports go to the EU: about 8% of EU exports go to the UK.  Half of the food consumed in Britain is imported, and over half of that comes from the EU. The rest of the EU is fairly close to being self-sufficient in food; this is not of course true for all types of food – but the types of food in which the EU is not self sufficient do not come from the UK.  Britain is a good market for German cars and machinery... but not the only one; and in the event of tarif barriers going up between the UK and the EU if Brexit talks collapse, German cars will quickly fill the parts of the continental market that open up as UK-made vehicles are priced out.
   These facts of economic reality suggest that the UK will not be entering Brexit negotiations in a position of strength – quite the opposite. So if, as Mrs May says, she really does plan to get a good deal for Britain, UK negotiators are going to have to make a lot of concessions. A lot.
   Finally, Mrs. May insisted again today that "No deal is better than a bad deal" – a phrase heartily applauded by Brexit hard-liners. Unfortunately, this phrase has little more meaning that the earlier much-repeated mantra of "Brexit means Brexit."  It's another platitude, and of course it is true; but it is meaningless until such time as the "bad deal" is defined. And if there is one thing about which we can safely be sure, even today, it is this : if and when a deal is reached, it will be presented as a good deal, not as a bad deal. Indeed, it will be presented as the best deal possible – another platitude to sell to voters.
   In the meantime, predicting the outcome of forthcoming Brexit negotiations remains impossible, even if the situation is now "clearer".
   But is it?  
    It is still not impossible, though fairly improbable, that Theresa May (who, let's not forget, campaigned against Brexit before the Referendum) is the Machiavelli of our time, and playing a very high-stakes game. Could it just be that she is giving the hard Brexiteers most of what they are dreaming of, but also all the rope that they need  so that some day, this year or next, when things go pear-shaped, she can pull the noose tight and say. "Stop this nonsense. We're getting nowhere, and we risk breaking the British economy, not to mention the United Kingdom itself."  Theresa Machiavelli? Unlikely, but not completely impossible.
   If negotiations really do look as if they are going badly, May is unlikely to relish the idea of going down in the history books as the Prime Minister who led Britain out into the wilderness.  Most politicians want history to remember them favourably; and Theresa May, the PM that saved Britain from itself, would be a far better way to be remembered.

4th-8th December
The UK Supreme Court hears an appeal by the Government against the High Court's judgement that Parliament must vote on the Government's Brexit plan before Article 50 can be triggered.  If the government loses its appeal, the start of the Brexit process could be delayed.  The Supreme Court's verdict will be given in January.

1st December
In a historic by-election result, the Liberal Democrat party, standing on a resolutely anti-Brexit ticket, overturned a 23,000 Conservative majority, to take the seat with an 1,800 majority from the former Conservative and pro-Brexit MP Zac Goldsmith –. a swing of 21.5 points from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats. Goldsmith, a high-profile and popular MP,  had resigned as a Conservative in protest over plans to expand Heathrow airport, and was standing again as an independent.  He was beaten by the LibDem candidate Sarah Olney, a complete newcomer to politics.

16th November

Unemployment continues to fall in the UK in spite of the prospect of Brexit. The jobless rate has fallen to 4.8%, the lowest level since 2005. However the rate of growth in employment is starting to decline.  Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of people working in the UK rose by  454,000 in the last 12 months.. but that less than half of these jobs were taken by people with British nationality.   People in favour of Brexit claim that this shows how British jobs are being taken by foreign workers;  anti-Brexit campaigners argue that the figures just show that the growth of Britain's economy is absolutely dependent on the ability of employers to hire people from the EU and beyond.

15th November
The Times nespaper publishes a report from the accountancy firm Deloitte which claims the government is in chaos over Brexit, with major disagreement in the Cabinet between the "hard" Brexiteers and those demanding that the UK remains in the European Single Market (which is more than just the EU).

5th November 2016  

Theresa May announces that the British Government will appeal to the Supreme Court against the ruling by judges in the English High Court of 4th November. The Government claims that it has "sovereign powers" that allow it to make or break international treaties without first getting approval from Parliament.  The Government's appeal will be heard in the Supreme Court between 5th and 8th December.

5th November
The right-wing British media, and in particular the Daily Mail newspaper,  are vitriolic in their condemnation of the judges of the High Court. In a full front-page headline, the mail condemns the judges as "enemies of the people". Theresa May refuses to condemn the Mail's headlines, claiming "freedom of the The right-wing British media, and in particular the Daily Mail newspaper,  are vitriolic in their condemnation of the judges of the High Court. In a full front-page headline, the mail condemns the judges as "enemies of the people". Theresa May refuses to condemn the Mail's headlines, claiming "freedom of the press".

4th November
A Conservative MP Stephen Phillips resigns from Parliament, saying that he cannot support Theresa May's position on Brexit. Phillips was actually one of the minority of  Tory (Conservative) MPs who campaigned in favour of Brexit, but is strongly opposed to the "hard" Brexit option being envisaged by Mrs. May.

4th November 2016
In one of the most important constitutional conflicts for many years in Britain, Theresa May's Brexit timetable is put into doubt. Responding to a complaint lodged by citizens groups, three judges in the English High Court rule that the government cannot constitutionally trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without being authorised to do so by Parliament.

3rd October 2016
The Pound falls sharply amid renewed fears that Theresa May could take the UK out of the European Single Market as well as leaving the EU.  May hastens to reassure the markets that she will obtain the best possible terms to ensure that Brexit does not damage British exporters.

2nd October 2016
Speaking to the party faithful at the annual Conservative Party Conference, Theresa May announces a timeline for Brexit. She plans to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of March 2017, and without a vote in Parliament.  "Triggering Article 50" is the formal process by which the UK will officially inform the European Union that it is planning to leave. Detailed negotiations on the terms of Britain's exit from the EU cannot start until Article 50 has been triggered.
   In her speech, Theresa May suggested that she would go for a "hard" Brexit if that was the only way to stop the free movement of people between the EU and Britain.

Mid September
The British Pound, which had stabilised since the intial post-referendum fall, starts to fall again as businesses and investors worry that the Government may go for the "hard" Brexit option, which could be seriously damaging for large parts of British industry, notably the financial sector.

11th September 2016
Foreign Secretary and prominent "Leave" campaigner  Boris Johnson launches a new pressure group called "Change Britain", whose aim is to force the government to choose the "hard" option for Brexit, taking Britain out of the European Union and the single Market as quickly as possible.

Summer 2016
With Theresa May installed as Prime Minister, the new Government sets to work; but it is the summer holiday period, so the Brexit is put on hold.  Neither Theresa May nor her Government have a clear idea of exactly what they want, apart from a vague "Brexit".  Before the referendum, Brexit was never clearly defined, and no preparations were made for implementing it. Asked what Brexit meant, Theresa May could only say that "Brexit means Brexit", and that she would obtain (not would try to obtain) "the best possible terms" for the UK in the coming years or months of negotiations. As an explanation, that was little better, since it should be self-evident that the government will obtain "the best possible terms" for a British exit from the EU; but the unanswered question remains: "How good will these terms be ?" They will undoubtedly be the best possible, but that does not necessarily mean that they will be good, nor favourable for the UK. In response to May's "Brexit means Brexit", European leaders repeat that "Out means out."

13th July 2016
Theresa May takes over as British Prime Minister, and makes the key appointments to her Government. To general surprise, she appoints Boris Johnson to the post of Foreign Secretary. Johnson thus becomes the key figure in the UK's Brexit team, in which he is joined by two hard-line Brexiteers David Davis as Minister for Brexit (officially "Sectretary of State for Exiting the European Union"), and Liam Fox as Trade Secretary.

11th July 2016
Under much pressure from Party members and from the media, worried by her lack of experience, Andrea Leadsom announces that she is withdrawing from the Conservative leadership race.  There now remains only one contestant, so there will be no need for the vote by Conservative Party faithful in Spetember. Theresa May will be the next British Prime Minister.

5th July 2016
In the first round of voting, Conservative MPs eliminate Michael Gove from the leadership contest. Gove is not pardoned for having betrayed his partner Boris Johnson.  The final round in the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party – to be decided in September by a vote of Party members – is now a completely unexpected contest, between two women Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom.

30th June 2016
Michael Gove, former Justice Secretary and key "Leave" campaigner, unexpectedly announces that he cannot support Boris Johnson in the Conservative leadership battle, and will be standing himself. Within hours, and shortly before the deadline for applications, Boris Johnson announces his decision to quit the race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, and next Prime Minister. It looks as though Johnson's political career is over, for the forseeable future.  The leadership race is now down to three candidates, Theresa May, former Home Secretary under David Cameron, and until now a "remain" supporter,  Andrea Leadsom, former Energy secretary, a "leave" campaigner, and Gove.

24th June 2016
David Cameron announces his resignation both as Prime Minister and as a Member of Parliament.  Boris Johnson, the populist and controversial  figurehead of the Leave campaign, is tipped to replace Cameron as Prime Minister. The next Prime Minister will be the next leader of the Conservative Party, chosen by Party Members in a national vote. Johnson however has many political enemies.

23rd  June 2016
Following a very bitter campaign (see Brexit arguments) The British people vote in a referendum on the very vague question: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?". The question did not mention the Single Market, the Customs Union, or the EAA.  In a result that was totally unexpected, voters chosose by a small majority, 51.1% to 48.9%, for Britain to leave the EU.  The value of the British Pound loses some 10% on the currency exchange markets.

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