London, Sept 24 (AFP/APP):From the Brexit referendum result to the Supreme Court’s ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament was illegal, here are the milestones on Britain’s road out of the European Union.
– Britain votes to leave –
In a referendum on June 23, 2016, Britons choose to leave the 28-nation EU by a 52-48 percent margin.
Conservative prime minister David Cameron, who called the referendum but led the campaign to preserve Britain’s four-decade membership in the bloc, resigns the next day.
– May becomes prime minister –
Theresa May, the remain-backing interior minister, becomes prime minister on July 13.
On January 17, 2017 she sets out her Brexit strategy, saying Britain will leave Europe’s single market and control EU immigration.
– Exit process triggered –
On March 29, 2017, the government starts a two-year timetable for withdrawal, with a letter to the EU Council formally announcing Britain’s intention to leave.
The Brexit deadline is set at March 29, 2019.
– Lost majority –
To strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations, May calls a snap election for June 8, 2017.
But the Conservatives lose their parliamentary majority and are forced to strike a deal for support from Northern Ireland’s hardline Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
– Draft deal agreed –
On November 13, 2018, British and EU negotiators reach a draft divorce agreement. EU leaders approve the accord on November 25.
“This is the only deal possible,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insists.
May faces an angry backlash from her own party over the deal’s terms, which they fear could leave Britain’s interminably trapped in EU trade rules.
– British MPs reject deal –
In the first parliament vote on the deal on January 15, 2019, MPs vote 432 to 202 against, the biggest government defeat in British parliamentary history.
The next day the government narrowly survives a vote of no confidence called by the main opposition Labour Party. New talks are launched with the EU, which refuses to reopen the deal.
The deal is rejected again on March 12 by 391 to 242.
On March 27, May promises to resign if her Brexit deal is adopted.
They vote against it for a third time on March 29, by 344 to 286, leaving May’s leadership in peril.
– Brexit delay –
The EU agrees to delay Brexit until May 22 and then — at an April 10-11 summit — until October 31, the current deadline.
The delay means Britain is obliged to organise European Parliament elections on May 23, which are won by the Brexit Party of anti-EU populist Nigel Farage.
– May resigns, Johnson elected –
The European election defeat prompts May to announce on May 24 that she will step down as Conservative leader on June 7, making way for the election of a new prime minister.
On July 23 Brexit figurehead Johnson is voted new Conservative leader, becoming prime minister the next day.
He promises to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, “do or die”.
– Parliament suspended –
To prevent MPs from trying to hinder his strategy, on August 28, Johnson forces the suspension of parliament in the second week of September until October 14.
On September 9, Queen Elizabeth II gives her formal approval to a law, initiated by opposition MPs and Conservative rebels, that would force the government to delay Brexit if it is not able to strike a divorce deal with Brussels.
– Suspension ‘unlawful’ –
On September 14, Britain’s Supreme Court rules the decision to suspend parliament was ‘unlawful’ and that parliamentarians could reconvene “as soon as possible”.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn calls on Johnson to resign.