Brexit in dates: From Leave vote to draft deal

London, UK Updated: Nov 22, 2018, 09:58 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

From the shock Brexit vote to British and EU negotiators agreeing a draft divorce deal and an outline of post-Brexit ties, here are the milestones on Britain's rocky road out of the European Union.

From the shock Brexit vote to British and EU negotiators agreeing a draft divorce deal and an outline of post-Brexit ties, here are the milestones on Britain's rocky road out of the European Union.

Britons vote to leave

In a referendum Britons on June 23, 2016 choose to end their membership of the EU by 52 percent to 48 percent.

The result prompts the resignation the next day of Conservative prime minister David Cameron, who had called the referendum and led the campaign to remain in the EU.

In a race to replace him, Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson withdraws at the last minute and Theresa May, Cameron's interior minister for six years, becomes prime minister on July 11.

Clean break

On January 17, 2017 May gives a major speech setting out her Brexit strategy, saying Britain will also leave Europe's single market.

On March 13 Britain's parliament gives final approval to a bill empowering May to trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty which lays out the process for leaving the union.

Exit process triggered

With a letter to EU President Donald Tusk on March 29 formally announcing the intention to leave, the government sets in motion Article 50.

Its two-year timetable for withdrawal is set to wind up by March 29, 2019.

Lost majority

To capitalise on the perceived weakness of the opposition Labour party and strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, May calls a snap election for June 8.

Her gamble backfires as the Conservatives lose their parliamentary majority. They are forced to strike a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to be able to govern.

The issue of British guarantees to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit becomes a key sticking point in negotiations.

First terms agreed

Britain and the EU reach a deal on some key terms of the divorce in early December 2017 after all-night negotiations. They include Britain's EU bill as part of the settlement.

EU leaders give the go-ahead for the next stage of Brexit talks, including on how Britain will continue to trade with the bloc after the split.

Brexit bill passed

A bill enacting the decision to leave the EU becomes law on June 26, 2018, following months of debate and after receiving the formal assent of Queen Elizabeth II.

The bill transfers decades of European law onto British statute books and enshrines "Brexit day" as March 29, 2019.

Top ministers quit

On July 6 May wins agreement from her warring cabinet to pursue "a UK-EU free trade area" that would retain a strong alignment with the EU after Brexit.

Two days later David Davis, the eurosceptic Brexit minister, quits as does his deputy. May is giving "too much away too easily", Davis says.

In a major blow, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also resigns on July 9, having criticised the Brexit blueprint in private, and becomes a leading critic of May's plans.

Draft divorce deal agreed

The European Union on November 13 publishes contingency plans for a "no-deal" Brexit.

But a few hours later, May's office says negotiating teams have reached a draft agreement for a Brexit.
On November 14 the cabinet meets over the draft for more than five hours. May says afterwards it had made a "collective decision" to give its backing.


On November 15 four ministers, including Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, quit in protest at the exit deal, which May defends to parliament ahead of a December vote on it.

EU President Donald Tusk confirms the bloc will hold a special summit to seal the agreement on November 25.

Outline on future ties

British and EU negotiators strike a draft agreement on post-Brexit ties on November 22 to go with the divorce deal.

The text covers economic and security ties and states that free movement for British and EU nationals "will no longer apply" after Britain leaves the bloc.

May defends the two agreements as "the right deal for Britain" despite opposition from Brexit hardliners in her own Conservative Party who urge her to renegotiate.


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