A Brief History of Brexit

By Maddie Simpson


A lot has happened to lead to the election on the 12th December. It all started back in 2013 when prime minister at the time David Cameron promised a referendum on the EU if the Conservative party won a majority at the 2015 election. He did this to try and regain the support of voters who had moved away from the Conservatives to vote for UKIP.  In the 2015 election the Conservatives won by majority, and a date of the 23rd June 2016 was set for the referendum. The result was 52% – 48% in favour of leaving the EU.


Following the result, David Cameron resigned as prime minister which lead to a leadership election for the Conservative party, won by Theresa May. She ruled out the prospect of a second referendum that had been suggested following Cameron’s resignation. Instead she proceeded to implement the legislation to trigger Article 50, the EU’s procedure for a country to leave. On the 26th January 2017 the House of Commons voted in favour of triggering Article 50, which was implemented on the 29th March 2017 when a letter was sent to Donald Tusk, the President of the EU Council. This started a two-year process for the UK to leave by 2019.


Just over a week later, May announced that there would be a general election on 8th June, which lead to the Conservatives losing the majority they had gained in 2015. They went on to form a minority government with a confidence-and-supply deal with the DUP. May then proceeded to commence negotiations with the EU leading to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.


The beginning of 2019 saw the first meaningful vote on the Withdrawal Agreement which the government lost by 230 votes, the largest defeat in parliamentary history. Following two further defeats for her deal and two extension until the 31st October, May announced she would step down as leader of the Conservative party – leading to another leadership election which was won by Boris Johnson. Johnson took office on the 24th July 2018 and promised that the UK would leave the EU by the October 31st deadline.


Following his announcement that he would prorogue parliament on 9th September, MPs implemented laws that would require the prime minister to ask for an extension to Article 50 if no deal was agreed. Following parliament being recalled on the 25th September after the Supreme Court ruled the prorogation unlawful, Johnson and the EU agreed a revised Withdrawal Agreement. The UK got a ‘flextension’ until the 31st January 2020, however the government tried to pass the new deal through parliament before the 31st October. However, This failed after the programme motion to get legislation through in three days was rejected. Following a number of failed attempts, MPs agreed to hold the election on the 12th December.


Nobody knows what the future holds following the election. Leaving with Johnson’s deal, leaving with no deal or a second referendum are all a possibility. What we do know is this process that started over five years ago is far from over.

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