From the 2016 referendum to the agreement… Here are the most important stations of the UK’s exit from the EU

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From the June 2016 pro-Brexit referendum to the de facto exit from the European single market. Here are the highlights of the divorce between London and the EU:


On 23 June 2016, the British voted in a referendum in favor of leaving the European Union. The next day the conservative and pro-Remain Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation. Conservative Theresa May, who is skeptical of the European Union, took over as prime minister. On 29 March 2017, Theresa May activated Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. Formally launching the exit process that was supposed to end two years later. Wanting to strengthen her position before entering negotiations with the EU, May called for early parliamentary elections. However, the result of the June 8, 2018 election was a setback for May. She has now allied herself with the small Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland to govern.

The first agreement

 On 13 November 2018, the British government announced that British and European negotiators had finally reached a draft agreement. Which was approved on 25 November during a European summit. Deputies rejected the British three times, on 15 January 2019. 12 March, and 29 March of the same year, the agreement. On 22 March, the Brexit date was postponed to 22 May and then to 31 October. Theresa May was forced to organize European elections on 23 May. The next day she announced that she would resign on June 7th.

The new house of Commons, elected on 9 January 2020, approved the Brexit agreement

Election of Boris Johnson

On 23 July the Conservative Party chose Boris Johnson, who is pro-Brexit on 31 October with or without a deal, to succeed Theresa May as prime minister. Then, On 17 October, the EU and Britain announced a new agreement on Brexit. On 22 October, the European Parliament supported the principle of the need for a new agreement but voted against its urgent adoption. On 28 October, the EU agreed to postpone the rest until 31 January 2020.

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Boris Johnson won a landslide election victory and secured a majority that the Conservatives have not had since Margaret Thatcher (365 MPs out of 650). The new house of Commons, elected on 9 January 2020, approved the Brexit agreement. And endorsed by the European Parliament on 29 January. On January 31, Britain officially left the European Union. It has entered into a transition period that will last until 31 December 2020, during which it will continue to apply EU standards.

Negotiations beyond price

In early March, the EU and the UK began negotiations on their future trade and security relations. With the aim of reaching a quota-free and duty-free exchange agreement. Negotiations have been disrupted by the covid-19 crisis, particularly on fishing and fair competition. On 9 September, London announced its desire to renege on some of the commitments it made in its exit agreement with regard to Northern Ireland. It recognized that it was a violation of international law. On October 1st, the EU introduced a mechanism against the British government’s attempts to cancel parts of the Brexit agreement.

On Christmas Eve, after a final night of talks, von der Leyen and Johnson announced an agreement on free exchange

Zero Hour

On 15 October, the 27 EU member states asked London to make concessions to reach a trade agreement. Johnson, who made the available period a deadline, decided that the negotiations were over and asked the British to prepare for a no-deal exit. After a week of faltering, negotiations resumed on 22 October intensively. It was supposed to be completed before November in order to be able to apply a possible text in a timely manner. However, she continued through her extension. On 8 December, London and Brussels announced an agreement on customs and financial arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The British government withdrew articles from its law that had been objected to by the European Union. The next day, Johnson headed to Brussels for a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that ended in disagreement. On Christmas Eve, after a final night of talks, von der Leyen and Johnson announced an agreement on free exchange. This agreement entered into force on 31 December at 23.00 UTC when European rules ceased to apply to Britain leaving the European single market and customs union.

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