a guide : tourism, life, culture,
voters chose on 23rd June
2016, by a small majority, to take
Britain out of the European Union, some imagined that it
be a quick and simple process. By contrast, experts and politicians
well that extricating the UK from the EU would be long,
difficult and contentious. The word "Brexit" itself
things for different people, even among the leaders of the "Leave"
campaign. For some it just meant liberating the UK from the
Brussels, while continuing a free trade agreement with the EU
"soft Brexit" option demanded by industry and the financial sector;
but other Brexiteers were dreaming of a
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
June 23rd 2016. This timeline is in reverse-chronological order, with
the latest events at the top of the page.
Latest News: October 2020 - Towards no deal ?
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
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
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
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
That however is just the start. On Feb 1st, Britain will
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.
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.
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.
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
seats, as national percentages hide large differences from one region
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,
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.
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
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.
Court rules that Johnson's suspension of Parliament was unlawful
Update : 24
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
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
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.
Johnson suspends parliament
Update : 28
In an unprecedented move, prime
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
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
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
Johnson takes over
Update : 24
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
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,
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
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.
May resigns as Prime
Update : 24 May
Theresa May has announced her resignation
as Prime Minister on 7th
She will stay on after that for as long as is needed for the
Conservative Party to find a replacement. The current favourite is
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.
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
There is no satisfactory solution to this crisis. May tried
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
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
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.
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
Prime Minister to claim the credit for saving the UK from Brexit.
► Update 15th Jan 2019
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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.
11th December 2018
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
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 ?
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
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
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
British voters would now vote to remain in the EU, against 41
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
The big question now is perhaps not if
"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
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
There are two likely possibilities.
- Britain is now either on the way towards the successful
conclusion of Brexit, and leaving the EU as planned in March 2019;
- or this is the beginning of the end for Brexit, which will
be abandoned at some point in the near future.
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
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
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
Questioned last week by About-Britain.com, 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
9th July 2018
Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign secretary, has also
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.
probability of another General Election or a second referendum is
increasing by the hour. So too is the spectre of the UK
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
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
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
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 .
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.
the Irish government and the British government are, in theory,
committed to ensuring that no "hard border" gets
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
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,
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
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
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
not decide to call the whole adventure off. There is still time... but
it is running out fast.
27th August 2017 .
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
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 .
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
18th April 2017 .
a move that caught everyone, including her own party, by
Theresa May announced a snap general election in the UK for
8th June. Details and analysis ► British general election
29th March 2017 .
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
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
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
, Emmanuel Macron, was in London, where he
invited banks, talent, researchers and academics to move to France.
17th February 2017 .
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
tyhe current Labour Leader
Jeremy Corbyn, who told Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering
26th January 2017 .
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.
January 2017 .
in the The UK's Supreme Court have ruled that the British Government
cannot trigger Article 50 without the authorisation of Parliament.
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
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.
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
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.
a much-anticipated speech, Theresa May has provided a little
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
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
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
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
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.
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
this however seems a hollow threat, given the UK's
of payments deficit, and that many public services, notably the
Health Service and the road network, are seriously
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
by another big reduction in public services and their funding, or by
higher taxes on people and services – and neither of these
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
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%
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
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
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
entering Brexit negotiations in a position of strength –
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
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
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
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."
Machiavelli? Unlikely, but not completely impossible.
If negotiations really do look as if they are going badly,
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
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
its appeal, the start of the Brexit process could be delayed.
Supreme Court's verdict will be given in January.
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
points from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats. Goldsmith, a
high-profile and popular MP, had resigned as a Conservative
protest over plans to expand Heathrow airport, and was standing again
as an independent. He was beaten by the LibDem candidate
Olney, a complete newcomer to politics.
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.
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
how British jobs are being taken by foreign workers;
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.
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.
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".
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
but that does not necessarily mean that
they will be good, nor favourable for the UK. In response to
"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
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
leadership of the Conservative Party – to be decided in
September by a
vote of Party members – is now a completely unexpected
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.
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.
Following a very bitter campaign (see Brexit arguments
The British people vote in a referendum on the very vague question:
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
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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