Saturday, February 8, 2020

How it Happened: A Concise Timeline of Brexit

Map of the European Union, including all member countries, official candidate countries, and potential candidate countries, as of February 2020, updated for Brexit - the departure of the UK and Gibraltar (colorblind accessible). Also file under: Map of European Union Member Countries.

Map by Evan Centanni, from blank map by Ssolbergj. License: CC BY-SA

UK Leaves EU: What Were They Doing All That Time?

Last week, the UK actually left the European Union, in a long-anticipated move called for by a referendum vote in 2016. This British exit, or "Brexit" was never meant to happen in less than two years - by how did it stretch out to almost four?

We've put together a clear and concise timeline summarizing the process, without any of the confusing technical lingo or agonizing political details. Enjoy!

June 23, 2016
The UK holds a vote on whether to leave the EU, and the "Leave" option pulls a surprise win with 52%. UK Prime Minister David Cameron had approved holding the vote, but campaigned in favor the "Remain [in the EU]" option. Some other members of his Conservative Party had campaigned for "Leave".

July 13, 2016
Theresa May becomes Prime Minister of the UK after the resignation of David Cameron. May too has previously said she supports staying in the EU, but she hasn't been heavily involved in the "Remain" campaign like Cameron. Either way, it's now her job to make the exit happen.

UK Brexit vote map: Map of election results in Britain's June 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union (EU). Continuous red-to-blue color scheme gives a more honest depiction of the similarities between different election districts. Colorblind accessible.
Map of election results in the 2016 Brexit referendum
December 7, 2016
The UK parliament endorses a plan to begin the exit process by the end of March 2017.

March 29, 2017
After months of political wrangling, the UK government submits its official two-year notice to the EU, in an act known as "invoking Article 50".

June 8, 2017
The UK holds elections for Parliament, its legislature. The Conservative Party loses its majority, but Theresa May remains Prime Minister through an agreement with a smaller regional party from Northern Ireland (together, the two parties make up a majority of votes in Parliament).

June 19, 2017
The UK government begins negotiations with the EU on the complex details of how its exit will proceed and what will happen afterwards.

November 25, 2018
A treaty on the details of Brexit is approved by both the UK government and the EU's other member countries, but will fail over the next five months after the UK's legislature votes three times against approving it.

March 29, 2019
The original two-year deadline passes without the UK exiting the EU, after the the EU leadership grants the UK a temporary extension until April 12.

April 10, 2019
The UK and EU agree to extend the deadline again to October 31, 2019.

May 23, 2019
The UK holds elections for its representatives in the European Union's parliament, a requirement since it's still part of the EU. The new "Brexit Party" wins a majority of the country's seats.

July 24, 2019
Pro-Brexit Conservative Party member Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, after Theresa May gives up on pushing through her own Brexit plan and resigns. Johnson promises to make Brexit happen in October even if no agreement is reached with the EU.

October 17, 2019
The UK government and EU leaders reach a new agreement on the details of how Brexit will work, and Parliament votes to approve it. 

October 19, 2019
Parliament votes to require another deadline extension before it will consider approving the deal. Prime Minister Johnson then sends the EU an unsigned request to extend the deadline to January 31, 2020, while arguing in a letter to Parliament that he's personally against the extension.

October 28, 2019
The European Union approves the UK's request to extend the deadline to January 31. 

December 12, 2019
After political negotiations, the UK holds new elections for members of Parliament. When all is said and done, the Conservative Party has regained its majority, and keeps Boris Johnson on as Prime Minister.

January 23, 2020
The new Brexit agreement officially passes in the UK law after Parliament votes to approve it and the Queen makes her own endorsement (a formality). It will be signed by Johnson and EU leaders the next day.

January 30, 2020
The EU officially certifies the deal after its parliament votes in favor of the new terms.

January 31, 2020
The UK legally exits the EU at the end of the day, beginning a transition period set to last until December 31, 2020.

For more details about the Brexit process, check out Wikipedia's Timeline of Brexit.

Learn More: Brexit - What Actually Changed on January 31?

Map of How Britain Voted in the Brexit Referendum (Brexit Referendum by Constituency)
9 Geography Facts You Should Know About Brexit and Britain's EU Membership 
Why Does Brexit Matter? 5 Things that Might Change when Britain Leaves the EU
Photo Essay: British Territory Gibraltar and the Brexit Referendum

Article by Evan Centanni. Country flags and associated HTML code from Wikipedia (licensed under CC BY-SA).