Brexit: the story so far

Struggling to keep up with the ins and outs of Brexit? Marketing Assistant and avid news reader Nicole Hogger has put together a guide to what’s been happening, and when it happened...


It is hard to believe, but nearly two years have passed since the UK electorate voted to leave the EU. With Article 50 well and truly triggered, and negotiations between EU officials and the UK government reaching fever pitch, we thought it was a good moment to stand back and take stock.

So here, for those who have found the last 21 months befuddling, bemusing or downright incomprehensible, is Just Recruitment’s Brexit timeline. We hope it makes things clearer.

June 2016

23rd - In the EU Referendum, the UK electorate defies the polls and votes to exit the European Union. It’s a close call, with 51.9% voting to leave and 48.1% voting to remain.

24th - Before the dust settles on the referendum outcome, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron informs the public of his intention to resign, taking personal responsibility for the failed ‘remain’ campaign. A bitter Conservative leadership race soon begins, with Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson initially running for the position of Tory party leader, and therefore Prime Minister.

During this time, former Justice Secretary Michael Gove withdraws his support for ex-Mayor of London and fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson, and enters the leadership race himself. Johnson soon withdraws. The other contenders gradually slip away, leaving a head-to-head race between Leadsom and May. Once the former makes ill-advised remarks about May’s childlessness, she is forced to stand down, her credibility in tatters.

July 2016

13th So it is that Theresa May, as the only candidate still standing, officially becomes the new Conservative leader and Prime Minister of the UK. She is the only female to lead the nation since Margaret Thatcher. No pressure, then…

November 2016

3rd - The High Court unanimously concludes that parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU. This causes a nightmare scenario for the government, throwing the Prime Minister’s Brexit timetable up in the air. Unsurprisingly, the government appeals the judgment.

 January 2017

24th - The Supreme Court rejects the government’s appeal by a majority of eight to three - meaning the government is unable to trigger Article 50 without an act of parliament authorising it to do so.

26th - Following its defeat, the government publishes the European Union Notification of Withdrawal Bill, giving parliament just five days to debate the issue.

February 2017

2nd - A day after MPs vote in favour of a bill authorising Brexit negotiations to begin, the government publishes its Brexit White Paper, formally laying out its strategy for the process of leaving the EU.

March 2017

16th - The bill to give Theresa May authority to kick-start the Brexit progress is granted Royal Assent. This landmark moment is celebrated with cheers from euro-sceptic Conservative MPs.

28thA historic day for the United Kingdom, as Theresa May signs the official letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, informing him of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. Article 50 is triggered and the process of withdrawal must now be completed within two years.

30th - The government publishes the Great Repeal Bill White Paper. This sets out a proposed approach to deal with the legislative consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. For the short term, it involves transferring most of the EU’s laws onto the UK statute book – though they may well be revised in future.

 April 2017

18th - Theresa May makes an unexpected announcement: she is calling a general election. This is due to be held on Thursday, 8 June 2017, and, with a huge Conservative majority predicted by the polls, is intended to strengthen the government’s arm in the Brexit negotiations.

 June 2017

8th - To the surprise of the country and most politicos, the general election results in a hung parliament. No party has an outright majority, but the Conservatives win the most seats. After some delay, Theresa May negotiates a confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her minority government. 

19thUK and EU negotiations about Brexit finally get underway.

21st - Delayed by two days due to the negotiations between the Conservatives and the DUP, the State Opening of Parliament takes place. The Queen’s speech includes eight Brexit-related bills – a clear indication of the government’s focus for the year ahead.

July 2017

 13th - The European Union Withdrawal Bill (also known as the Repeal Bill) is introduced in the House of Commons. This states that it is necessary to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 in order to implement Brexit.

September 2017

12thThe EU Withdrawal Bill wins its first vote in the House of Commons, 326 votes to 290 in its favour. Mind you, some 157 amendments are suggested for further readings.

22ndTheresa May delivers a key speech in Florence, laying out the UK’s red lines in the Brexit negotiations, and arguing in favour of a transitional period after the UK formally leaves the EU in March 2019.

October 2017

19th – The European Council meets in Brussels. The 27 remaining EU member states (the EU27) examine the first phase of the Brexit negotiations. They decide that EU governments must believe ‘sufficient progress’ has been made before the negotiations can enter phase two, which focuses on trade.

To clarify, the EU27 say the following areas need progress: the legal rights of EU citizens currently resident in the UK, the status of the Irish border, the creation of robust financial commitments post-Brexit.

November 2017

28thBritish and EU negotiators reach a deal over the so-called ‘divorce payment’ for Brexit, with UK negotiators agreeing in principle to the EU’s demand of at least 60 billion euros. Both sides point out that a final figure is not formally agreed.

December 2017

8thThe Brexit divorce settlement is now formally reached, allowing the next phase of negotiations to get underway. These focus on creating a future trade deal between the UK and the EU and implementing a possible transition period after March 2019. There are also further refinements on issues relating to EU citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the UK’s financial settlement.

14thThe House of Commons votes to back an amendment to the European Union Withdrawal Bill, requiring any Brexit deal to be approved by a separate Act of Parliament before it can be implemented. This arises from a lost vote for the government - Theresa May’s first Commons defeat since becoming Prime Minister.

January 2018

9thTheresa carries out a reshuffle of her cabinet for the new year. Those promoted to the cabinet include Matthew Hancock, Esther McVey, Brandon Lewis and Damian Hinds.

17thThe European Union Withdrawal Bill passes in a House of Commons vote, meaning it will now progress to the House of Lords where peers are expected to suggest amendments. MPs vote in favour of the bill 324 to 295.

© 2018 Just Recruitment Group Ltd.

Posted on Friday Mar 2