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Brexit timeline

The IFoA’s Head of Public Affairs and Research, Annette Spencer, gave a presentation to the Casualty Actuarial Society on the “Story of Brexit” last year. View the presentation for a more in-depth analysis of the timeline and attitudes that  influenced the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Date Milestone Detail
7 May, 2015 Conservative Mandate In the general election, David Cameron wins a 12-seat majority with a manifesto that includes the commitment to hold an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
23 June, 2016 The Referendum The referendum sees Leave campaigners win a narrow victory with 51.9% against and 48.1% for Remain. Mr Cameron resigns immediately as Prime Minister.
13 July, 2016 New PM Theresa May becomes Prime Minister.
17 January, 2017 Lancaster House Speech

The PM gives her first speech setting out the type of Brexit deal she will be pursuing when formal negotiations begin. The key points covered in the speech included:

  • UK Law
  • The common travel area
  • Immigration
  • Rights for EU nationals
  • Worker’s Rights
  • Free trade
  • Security
29 March, 2017 Article 50 The PM triggers Article 50 which starts the clock on the process of the UK leaving the EU.
8 June, 2017 Snap Election Having surprised many by calling a general election, the PM loses her majority in Parliament. Northern Ireland's DUP - led by Arlene Foster - makes a deal with the Conservatives and its votes allow the PM to stay in power.
26 June, 2017 Negotiations Begin Formal negotiations on withdrawal begin between the UK and the EU.
22 September, 2017 Florence Speech

In an effort to break a deadlock in the negotiations, the PM set out the UK's position on how to move Brexit talks forward on the following key areas:

  • Transition period
  • Joint security
  • A Divorce bill
  • Leaving the single market
  • Citizen’s rights
  • Northern Ireland border
13 December, 2017 Westminster Rebellion Rebel Tory MPs side with the Opposition, forcing the government to guarantee a vote on the final Brexit deal, when it has been struck with Brussels.
15 December, 2017 Negotiations Phase 2 The EU agrees to move on to the second phase of negotiations after an agreement is reached on the Brexit “divorce bill”, Irish border and EU citizens’ rights.
2 March, 2018 Mansion House Speech

The PM gives a third speech outlining her plans for the next phase of negotiations. Topics included:

  • Free trade agreement
  • The five "tests" for the negotiations.
  • Labour mobility
  • Mutual recognition
  • The Northern Ireland Border
  • That ‘no deal’ is better than a bad deal.
19 March, 2018 Negotiations Progress The UK and EU make decisive steps in negotiations. Agreements include dates for a transitional period after Brexit day, the status of EU citizens in the UK before and after that time and fishing policy. Issues still to be sorted out include the Northern Ireland border.
6 July, 2018 Chequers Statement

The Government forms a final list of demands from the EU at a ‘Cabinet Away Day’, attempting to reach a general consensus on the content of the Brexit legislation, and how the final round of negotiations will progress. It covered:

  • The Brexit departure date
  • The end of Free movement
  • Post-Brexit financial contributions
  • A new customs regime
  • A common rulebook for goods
  • The status of EU law

Preparation for a ‘no deal Brexit’

12 July, 2018 White Paper Published The Government published its Brexit White Paper, outlining the Government's approach to managing the country's withdrawal from the EU.
15 November, 2018 The Clock Runs Out Theresa May presented the deal to Parliament. 
25 November, 2018 EU Summit EU Leaders agree to the Prime Ministers Brexit deal. 

14 January, 2019

Vote The Government was defeated in a 'meaningful vote' on the Withdrawal Agreement 
12 March, 2019 Second Vote The Government held its second 'meaningful vote' on the Withdrawal agreement which was defeated.
21 March, 2019 Extension The Prime Minister secured a short extension to Article 50 to delay Brexit until 12 April. The EU has said that agreement on a further extension of Article 50 to the end of May would be possible, but only if the UK approves a withdrawal agreement before 12 April.
10 April  2019 Second Extension

The Prime Minister and EU leaders agreed to a flexible extension of Article 50 until 31 October 2019. The UK has until this date to agree and pass a withdrawal deal.

23 - 26 May, 2019 European Elections The UK participates in European Elections, selecting 73 MEPs in 12 multi-member regional constituencies.
24 May, 2019 Theresa May resigns  Theresa May declares that she will step down as Prime Minister on 7 June 2019. The Conservative Party will select a new leader and Prime Minister. The new Government will take the lead in delivering Brexit. 
24 July 2019 Boris Johnson confirmed as new Prime Minister Boris Johnson succeeds Theresa May as the UK's 55th Prime Minister
17 October 2019 EU Summit The final scheduled summit of EU leaders before the October 31 deadline begins in Brussels. The Prime Minister announces that a revised deal has been struck.
19 October 2019 Benn Act Deadline

In accordance with the terms of the Benn Act, the PM asked the EU for a further extension of its departure date, as a deal had not been approved by Parliament, and Parliament did not consent to the UK leaving with no-deal. 

22 October 2019 MPs Vote on the Withdrawal Agreement

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes its second stage reading in the House of Commons, but failed to pass its program motion, ensuring that the UK's departure on the 31 October would be delayed, with the EU’s agreement. 

28 October 2019 EU Agrees to Extension

The European Union agreed to grant the U.K. up to three more months to finalise its departure. Brexit will take place on the first day of the month following the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, “or on 1 February 2020, whichever is the earliest.”

1 December 2019 First Possible Departure Date According to the terms of the extension of Article 50, the UK can leave the EU on this date if the House of Commons and the European Parliament ratify the exit deal before this date.
12 December 2019 General Election  A General Election was held and a new majority Government was formed.
23 January 2020 Withdrawal Agreement Bill The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill receives Royal Assent
31 January 2020 Second Possible Departure Date The UK Leaves the EU and enters into the transition period. 

The ongoing negotiations between Westminster and the EU are constantly changing. There is still much uncertainty surrounding both how, and when, we will depart from the EU.

As the existing state of affairs develops we will endeavour to keep you updated with the latest news. Should you want any further information please contact the IFoA Policy team – policy@actuaries.org.uk  

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