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Your Guide to the Brexit Countdown

With resignations, backstops and borders hitting the headlines, it’s easy to feel disorientated when it comes to Brexit negotiations and the decisions coming from the Houses of Parliament.

We’ve created a handy infographic to get you up to speed on all you need to know as we approach the crucial final days of Brexit. Find out what’s happened so far and how the Pound is faring as the countdown to the official exit ticks down.

Key Brexit Players

The crucial people involved in the key Brexit decisions

Theresa May

Theresa May,
Prime Minister

Theresa May became UK Prime Minister on 13 July 2016, after former PM David Cameron resigned following the result of the referendum. After serving for 1,059 days, May stepped down as leader of the Conservative party on 7 June 2019, stating that it was “in the best interests of the country” for a new prime minister to take over.

Theresa May said in her resignation speech on 24 May,

In a democracy, if you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that.

Stephen Barclay

Stephen Barclay,
Brexit Secretary

Stephen Barclay is the third Brexit Secretary in six months. Barclay was formerly a junior minister in the health and social care department, and became Brexit Secretary on 16 November 2018, after his predecessor, Dominic Raab, resigned over Theresa May’s draft withdrawal deal.

Speaking on May’s first Brexit deal, Barclay said,

It’s the only deal…that respects the referendum result that Brexiteers like me campaigned for that allows us to put an end to freedom of movement.

Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier,
European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union

Michel Barnier is the former French foreign minister who is now the EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit. He became chief negotiator in December 2016, and initially clashed in discussions with the first Brexit Secretary, David Davis.

After MPs rejected May’s withdrawal deal, Barnier said,

Future steps must be indicated very clearly by the British government…We are fearing more than ever that there is a risk of a no deal.

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn,
Leader of the Opposition

Jeremy Corbyn has lead the Labour party since 2015. During the referendum, Corbyn campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union. He tabled a vote of no confidence in Theresa May after she postponed the vote on the final Brexit deal, and again after the deal was rejected by the house on 15 January.

The Labour leader said in an interview in 2018,

What happened with this [Brexit] bill was that it was an undemocratic power grab by the government. We are not asking for a second referendum.

Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker,
President of the European Commission

Serving as President of the European Commission since 2014, Juncker leads the executive branch of the European Union. Juncker said in Brussels that there was “no room whatsoever” for renegotiating the final Brexit deal.

After a summit in Brussels on December 19, Juncker said,

The risks of a disorderly exit of Great Britain from the European Union are clear. It would be an absolute catastrophe.

Brexit Basics

Simple, understandable answers to Brexit FAQs

Ever since the EU was established in 1993, MPs – particularly in the Conservative party – have been concerned that the EU has too much power over the UK. When David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010, he was determined to end the conflict within his party over the UK’s place in the EU. Cameron called the referendum in the hope of quelling Euroscepticism in the Conservative party, allowing him to focus on his domestic agenda.

Reasons for members of the public voting to leave the EU include concerns over immigration and sovereignty. According to a study conducted on the day of the referendum, many people voted for Brexit in the hope that the UK could make its own laws and end free movement.

Brexit may also mean that Britain loses access to the single market. If a trade agreement isn’t reached, the UK could lose £75 billion if they’re no longer in the single market.

Businesses may also face a lack of employees. EU immigrants contribute significantly to major industries, particularly engineering and construction. The job searching website Indeed found that since the referendum, there has been a dramatic increase in migrants looking for jobs outside of the UK.

There’s speculation that this transition period may be extended. Michel Barnier floated the possibility of the transition period lasting until the end of 2022 – allowing an additional two years for negotiations.

If a deal is not reached, the UK will leave the EU immediately, without a transition period.

Theresa May coined the catchphrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’. The phrase made its first appearance during a speech in 2016, where May denied any possibility of a second referendum or disregard for the referendum result.

In July 2018, an MP asked Theresa May ‘Will Brexit be recognisable as Brexit?’ to which she clarified: ‘there has been much jocularity around the term Brexit means Brexit, but it does mean Brexit.’

The Irish border is central to Brexit negotiations. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will become the only land border between the UK and the EU after Brexit – making it a crucial part of the final Brexit deal. The backstop – a measure which would be put in place if no other solution was found to keep an invisible border– is a particularly controversial issue.

The backstop is an arrangement which ensures that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit until a long-term solution is found.

The EU and UK agreed to the backstop in 2017. The backstop means that the UK is in a temporary customs union with the EU. Goods can travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without custom checks. However, since Northern Ireland would be in the single market, and the UK wouldn’t, further checks might have to take place on goods between the two countries. Many MPs are opposed to the backstop since it could tie the UK to EU laws – perhaps indefinitely.

Brexit & the Pound

How Brexit events and decisions effected the Pound.

  • February 2016 – Referendum announced
  • June 2016 – Referendum results
  • July 2016 – Theresa May becomes Prime Minister
  • March 2017 – May triggers Article 50
  • April 2017 – May calls snap election
  • June 2017 – Formal negotiations between UK and EU begin
  • July 2018 – Cabinet reaches agreement, dubbed the Chequers deal
  • July 2018 – Brexit Secretary David Davis resigns, replaced by Dominic Raab
  • September 2018 – Draft deal rejected by EU leaders
  • October 2018 – EU Summit
  • November 2018 – Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey resign
  • December 2018 – Theresa May overcomes no confidence vote
  • January 2019 – Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected by parliament
  • January 2019 – DUP expresses optimism over Brexit amendment
  • January 2019 – Commons passes Brady’s Brexit amendment
  • February 2019 – MPs reject May’s Brexit motion
  • March 2019 – MPs reject May’s deal for the second time
  • March 2019 – May requests extension to Article 50
  • May 2019 – May announces her resignation
  • June 2019 – May steps down as Conservative Party leader

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Key Events Timeline

The key dates and events along the Brexit timeline

  • David Cameron announces referendum

    20 February 2016

    Prime Minister David Cameron says the government recommends that the UK “remains in a reformed European Union”.

    The referendum sees Cameron deliver on his commitment in 2013 to hold an EU referendum if elected. The decision, he says, rests with the British public: “You will decide, and whatever your decision, I will do my best to deliver it.”

  • Referendum

    23 June 2016

    Leave campaigners win narrow victory, with 51.9% Leave and 48.1% Remain. Result prompts David Cameron’s resignation.

  • Theresa May becomes Prime Minister

    13 July 2016

    May succeeds Cameron and becomes Britain’s second woman Prime Minister. May pledges to build a better Britain in her first speech outside 10 Downing Street.

  • Article 50 triggered

    29 March 2017

    Once invoked, Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union marks the official beginning of an EU member state’s withdrawal from the union.

  • General Election

    08 June 2017

    Election results in hung parliament. May loses majority in Parliament, but makes a deal with Northern Ireland’s DUP to remain in power.

  • Formal Brexit negotiations begin between the UK and EU

    19 June 2017

    At the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, UK Brexit secretary David Davis and EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier begin discussions on the “exit bill”.

  • EU Withdrawal Bill has its first Reading in the House of Lords

    18 Jan 2018

    The Bill receives royal assent, repealing the European Communities Act of 1972.

  • Cabinet meets at Chequers

    6-7 Jul 2018

    Cabinet reaches agreement, including a free trade area for goods and a revised customs agreement.

  • Theresa May presents Chequers deal to House of Commons

    9 Jul 2018

    David Davis, Brexit secretary resigns saying that the UK is “giving away too much too easily” to the EU in Brexit negotiations. Dominic Raab appointed new Brexit secretary.

  • Theresa May presents Chequers deal in Salzburg

    19-20 Sep 2018

    Draft deal is rejected by EU leaders. Theresa May must rewrite her Brexit deal in four weeks.

  • EU leaders meet to discuss new deal

    17 Oct 2018

    EU leaders meet in the European Council to review the negotiations with the UK.

  • Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigns

    15 Nov 2018

    Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey also resigns over the draft Brexit deal.

  • EU leaders endorse Brexit deal

    25 Nov 2018

    Leaders of 27 states agree on the deal, and urge the UK to pass it through Parliament.

  • Theresa May survives no-confidence vote

    12 Dec 2018

    May wins 63% of the vote, meaning Tories cannot challenge her leadership for another year.

  • Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected by MPs

    15 Jan 2019

    Final verdict is 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal – the largest defeat for a government since the 1920s. Leader of the opposition, Jeremey Corbyn, tables vote of no confidence in the government.

  • May’s government survives confidence vote

    16 Jan 2019

    Parliament votes by 325 to 306 to keep May’s Conservative government in power.

  • May presents Brexit ‘Plan B’ to Parliament

    21 Jan 2019

    Proposed changes include: more flexibility for future negotiations with the EU, stronger protections on workers’ rights and the environment, and an improved agreement on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

  • DUP expresses optimism over Brexit amendment

    25 Jan 2019

    The Democratic Unionist Party, which supports the Conservative minority government, says it is likely to support an amendment which replaces the Irish backstop with “alternative arrangements”.

  • Commons passes Brady’s Brexit amendment

    29 Jan 2019

    Tory MP Sir Graham Brady’s amendment states that MPs will pass the Brexit deal if the Irish backstop is renegotiated. Amendment is passed by 317 votes to 301. Dromey and Spelman’s cross-party amendment to reject a no deal outcome passes by 318 votes to 310.

  • MPs reject May’s Brexit motion

    14 Feb 2019

    May faces another defeat in the House of Commons, as MPs vote against supporting her Brexit strategy by 303 votes to 258. The result signals a divide in the Conservative party, marking the end of the party’s truce after the Brady amendment was passed.

  • Labour MPs form “The Independent Group"

    18 Feb 2019

    Seven Labour MPs quit the party to sit in Parliament as independent MPs, joined in the following days by an eighth Labour MP and three Conservative MPs – who cite the Conservative party’s handling of Brexit as the reason for their departure.

  • Theresa May delays vote on her Brexit deal

    24 Feb 2019

    May states she needs more time to negotiate with European Union leaders in order for the changes to her deal to be fully “locked in”. Vote is postponed to March 12.

  • Theresa May delays vote on her Brexit deal

    12 Mar 2019

    House of Commons votes down Brexit deal by 391 votes to 242 – a margin of 149 votes. In response, MPs are scheduled to vote on leaving the EU without a deal on March 13. If a no deal Brexit is rejected by the house, MPs will vote on seeking an extension to article 50 on March 14.

  • May requests extension to Article 50

    20 Mar 2019

    Theresa May informs the House of Commons that she has written to Donald Tusk to request an extension of Article 50 until June 30.

  • EU grants UK short Brexit extension

    22 Mar 2019

    EU leaders decide to grant Theresa May two more weeks – until the 12 April – to pass her deal through the House or come up with an alternative Brexit solution. If May’s deal is passed by the House, the UK will have until the 22 May to ratify it.

  • MPs vote to hold series of indicative votes

    26 Mar 2019

    MPs vote 329 – 302 in favour of an amendment tabled by Sir Oliver Letwin, which means that MPs will control the House agenda and vote on alternatives to May’s Brexit deal. Three conservative MPs, Richard Harrington, Alistair Burt and Steve Brine, resign after voting in favour of the amendment.

  • May announces her resignation

    24 May 2019

    Outside 10 Downing Street, Theresa May announces that she will quit as prime minister and Conservative party leader on 7 June. The Conservative party plans to elect a new leader by the end of July, with the leadership race beginning as soon as 10 June.

  • May resigns as Conservative Party leader

    7 June 2019

    Theresa May steps down as leader of the Conservative Party, remaining prime minister until her replacement is appointed by the party. The first ballot for the new prime minister is scheduled for 13 June.

Brexit Consequences:
Deal vs. No Deal

What it means to leave the EU with Theresa May’s Brexit deal versus leaving the EU with no deal

Deal

  • Transition period of at least 21 months
  • Effectively staying in the single market
  • No delays at the UK border
  • No long term agreement for border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  • Free movement until 2020. However, it’s unclear how the government would proceed after this

No Deal

  • Britain leaves EU with no transition period
  • Border checks and tariffs in effect immediately 
  • Potential delays at the UK’s border
  • No long term agreement for border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  • Britain makes own policies on migration. Agreement for EU citizens in UK, and UK citizens living in the EU still vague

Brexit Analysis

Find out what FXTM’s Market Analysis Team have to say about the latest Brexit news

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Disclaimer: The content in this article comprises personal opinions and should not be construed as containing personal and/or other investment advice and/or an offer of and/or solicitation for any transactions in financial instruments and/or a guarantee and/or prediction of future performance. FXTM, its affiliates, agents, directors, officers or employees do not guarantee the accuracy, validity, timeliness or completeness, of any information or data made available and assume no liability as to any loss arising from any investment based on the same.

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