It’s January 31, 2023 and it’s been three years since the momentous occasion of Brexit. The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union (EU) was a process that lasted far longer than many had anticipated. The indecision at the highest levels of politics caused concern among both British and foreign citizens. The uncertainty surrounding the Brexit countdown had many individuals and companies on edge, as they worried about potential currency exchange rate fluctuations, property prices, and import/export controls in the event of a no-deal scenario.
Despite the late drama and the growing probability of a complete turnaround, with the UK potentially cancelling its plans to leave the EU, Brexit became a reality on January 31, 2020 at 11 pm. The journey to Brexit was a long and complicated one, requiring no less than three different prime ministers, two general elections, and an abundance of patience on all sides of the Brexit divide. The entire process was a testament to the importance and impact of political decisions and their far-reaching consequences.
Brexit Events Timeline
- 23 June: Referendum on leaving EU, 52% vote to leave.
- 24 June: PM Cameron announces resignation.
- 25 June: UK’s EU Commissioner Hill resigns.
- 13 July: Cameron resigns, May becomes PM, Davis appointed Brexit secretary.
- 27 July: Michel Barnier appointed EU Chief Negotiator.
- 3 Nov: UK court rules Parliament must authorize Article 50 trigger.
- 7 Dec: Parliament votes in favor of triggering Article 50 by end of March.
- 24 Jan: Supreme Court rules Parliament must pass bill to trigger Article 50.
- 26 Jan: UK government introduces bill to trigger Article 50.
- 16 March: Bill receives Royal Assent.
- 29 March: Article 50 invoked, two-year process to exit EU begins.
- 18 April: May announces general election for June 8.
- 8 June: General election results in hung parliament, Conservative-DUP government formed.
- 19 June: Brexit negotiations start.
- 6 July: UK white paper on future EU relationship (Chequers agreement).
- 8 July: Davis resigns as Brexit Secretary, Raab appointed.
- 9 July: Boris Johnson resigns as foreign secretary.
- 21 Sept: EU rejects UK white paper.
- 14 Nov: Brexit withdrawal agreement published.
- 15 Nov: Raab resigns as Brexit Secretary, Barclay appointed.
- 25 Nov: Withdrawal Agreement endorsed by 27 EU member states.
- January 15: First meaningful vote on Withdrawal Agreement defeated (432-202)
- March 12: Second meaningful vote on Withdrawal Agreement defeated (391-242)
- March 14: UK government extends Article 50 period (412-202)
- March 20: Theresa May requests Article 50 extension until June 30
- March 21: EU extends Article 50 until May 22 (or April 12)
- March 29: Third vote on Withdrawal Agreement defeated (344-286)
- April 5: Theresa May requests Article 50 extension until June 30 again
- April 10: EU extends Article 50 until October 31 (or earlier if agreement passed)
- May 23: UK holds European Parliament elections (Brexit Party wins 29 seats)
- May 24: Theresa May announces resignation as Conservative Party leader (June 7)
- July 18: MPs approve amendment to block suspension of Parliament (October 9-December 18)
- July 24: Theresa May resigns, Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister
- July 25: Parliament summer recess (July 25-September 3)
- August 28: Boris Johnson announces Parliament prorogation (October 14)
- September 3: Motion for emergency debate to prevent no-deal Brexit passed (328-301)
- September 4: Benn Act passes second reading (329-300), PM’s election motion rejected (298-56)
- September 9: PM’s election motion again rejected, Benn Act becomes law, Parliament prorogued
- September 24: Supreme Court rules prorogation unlawful, Parliament recalled
- October 2: UK government publishes white paper on Irish backstop replacement, Parliament prorogued (October 8-14)
- October 17: UK Parliament votes against early general election
- October 19: Boris Johnson writes to EU requesting extension to Article 50
- October 28: European Council agrees to extend Article 50 until January 31, 2020
- November 1: Parliament approves Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill
- November 6: Queen approves Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill
- December 12: UK general election held, Conservative Party wins majority
- December 19: Parliament approves Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill
- December 29: UK leaves the EU
- 22 January: the Withdrawal Agreement Bill proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson passes the UK parliament after several amendments proposed by the House of Lords were rejected by the House of Commons in a vote of 342–254. The Lords later decided not to propose further amendments, thereby allowing passage of the bill to the Queen to receive royal assent.
- 23 January: the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 receives royal assent.
- 23 January: The constitutional committee in the European Parliament backs the withdrawal agreement, setting the expectation that it would be approved by the entire parliament.
- 24 January: Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, and Boris Johnson sign the withdrawal agreement. Von der Leyen and Michel signed the agreement in the Europa Building in Brussels and then sent the agreement in a diplomatic bag to 10 Downing Street in London for Johnson to sign the agreement.
- 28 January: Chris Pincher becomes the last UK Minister to attend an EU meeting in Brussels when he was present at the General Affairs Council.
- 29 January: The European Parliament gives its consent to the Council of the European Union to conclude the withdrawal agreement by 621 votes to 49. This also was the final time that MEPs from the United Kingdom sat in the European Parliament.
- 30 January: The Council of the European Union concludes ratification of the withdrawal agreement.
- 31 January: At 11 p.m. GMT the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union, at the deadline set for its departure by the Article 50 extension agreed between the UK and the EU in October 2019, and transitional arrangements begin for the period ending on 31 December 2020.
- 3 February: UK government objectives, as published, include respect for sovereignty and autonomy, no regulatory alignment or jurisdiction for the CJEU, a comprehensive free trade agreement, cooperation in security, and agreements with the EFTA states.
- 18 March: The EU publishes its draft proposal for a New Partnership with the UK.
- 30 December: The European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020 passes the House of Commons of the United Kingdom by 521 votes to 73.
- 31 December: At 11 p.m. GMT the United Kingdom completes its separation from the European Union with the ending of the Brexit transition period. The UK ends the dynamic incorporation of future EU law into UK law.
Who voted for Brexit?
The 2016 Brexit Referendum outcome exposed deep divisions within the country, with every region except Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voting to Leave. Education level was a major factor in the vote. 70% of those with only GCSE education or lower voted to Leave, while 68% of university graduates voted to Remain. Among those with A levels but no degree, the vote was split 50-50.
Age also played a role. 71% of those under 25 voted to Remain, compared to 29% for Leave. In contrast, 64% of those over 65 voted for Leave, with only 36% for Remain. Among the 24-49 age group, 54% voted for Remain, while 46% voted for Leave. Among 50-64 year olds, 60% voted for Leave. Party affiliation also divided voters. Conservatives voted Leave by 61% to 39%, while Labour (65%) and Liberal Democrats (68%) largely voted for Remain. Only UKIP, with 95% for Leave, and the Greens, with 80% for Remain, had a strong party consensus.
The Impact of Brexit on British Economy
Positive impacts of Brexit on UK Economy:
- Increased trade with non-EU countries.
- Cheaper imports and improved current account balance and net foreign debt position due to the weaker pound.
- Improved trade relationship with countries like China, Canada, and India.
Negative impacts of Brexit on UK Economy:
- 1.5% decline in economy prior to final exit from EU due to reduced business investment and transfers to EU.
- Decreased number of workers from EU.
- Negatively impacted service and goods trade balance due to stricter checks and approvals.
- Decreased foreign direct investments.
- London no longer a gateway to EU single market.
Impact on UK Financial Market:
- Volatility and instability in FTSE 100 share index.
- 10% of UK bank assets moved or moving to EU.
- 440 banking and financial institutions left UK.
- Foreign investment fell in UK financial service projects.
- London replaced by Amsterdam for European share trading, lost ¾ of euro volume to Amsterdam and New York.
Impact on UK Exports and Imports:
- Drastic fall in UK exports by 45% in January 2021 and further down by 15% by August.
- Decline in EU imports of UK goods by almost 30% by January 2020.
- Recovery in some sectors, but not full, food sector still struggling.
- Provisional free-trade agreement with EU in 2020.
Impact on UK Trade:
- Decline in trade with EU by almost 15% in October 2021 and 35.2% decline in imports of financial services from EU.
- Customs declaration and physical inspections may further reduce trade between UK and EU.
Impact on International Trade:
- Decline in UK goods and services trade with EU after Brexit.
- Improved international trade of financial services with non-EU countries like China, Singapore, and South Korea.
- Improved relations with countries like China and USA due to lower pound rate and tariffs.
Impact on UK Automobile Industry:
- UK automobile industry faced challenges due to Brexit.
- Uncertainty and increased costs due to new rules and regulations.
- Supply chain disruptions and reduced access to EU market.
- Decreased investment in the UK automobile industry.
Aftermath of Brexit from a Legal Perspective on UK Citizens
UK’s Brexit has resulted in the end of British citizens’ EU citizenship and free movement rights as of December 31st, 2020. The rules for short-term visits to most EU countries allow stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa. However, British citizens’ eligibility to live, work or study in an EU country depends on that country’s national immigration laws and visa requirements. There are also new EU Entry/Exit and ETIAS systems scheduled to be introduced by 2023 which will require travelers to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization.
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