Brexit Timeline: Key Dates As The UK Prepares To Leave The EU

9 October 2018, 10:53 | Updated: 12 December 2018, 21:25

The UK voted to leave the European Union on June 23rd 2016.
The UK voted to leave the European Union on June 23rd 2016. Picture: Getty

When is the UK leaving the European Union? Will we have a no-deal Brexit? Is there going to be a second referendum? Here's an in-depth Brexit timeline of all the important dates.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union in March next year, and time is running out for Theresa May to negotiate an exit-deal.

What has happened so far, and what happens next?

These are the milestones reached, from when David Cameron won the mandate for an in/out referendum by winning the 2015 general election and 2016 EU Referendum, to 'Brexit Day' and the end of the proposed transition period.

12th December 2018: Theresa May Wins No Confidence Vote

The chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, confirmed that he received letters from at least 48 Conservative MPs calling for a no-confidence vote against Theresa May.

The secret ballot took place in committee room 14 in the Houses of Parliament, with all Conservative MPs voting between 6pm and 8pm, with 200 voting in support of Theresa May and 117 against meaning she stays on as Prime Minister.

The committee vote is however separate to the no-confidence vote Jeremy Corbyn has threatened the government with.

The Labour Party has not ruled out setting a motion of no-confidence in the Tory government before Christmas if Theresa May can not allow the meaningful vote to take place in the coming days. The motion has been supported by the People's Vote campaign, and could trigger a general election.

But ahead of the 1922 Committee vote Theresa May warned that if she is forced out in either no-confidence vote that: “One of [her successor's] first acts would have to be extending, or even rescinding, Article 50- delaying, or even stopping, Brexit when people want us to get on with it."

- Theresa May's No Confidence Vote: What Happens Now?

- Brexit Deal: What's In Theresa May's Draft EU Withdrawal Agreement?

Theresa May faces a confidence vote in her leadership over Brexit
Theresa May faces a confidence vote in her leadership over Brexit. Picture: Getty

4th-10th December 2018: Commons Brexit Debate

MPs in the House of Commons were due to debate Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement deal for 40 hours before it is put to a 'meaningful vote', but after heavy criticism of the deal and the expectation it would be voted against, the vote which was due to take place on Tuesday 11th December was delayed by the Prime Minister. Shortly after her statement, the pound hit a 20 month low against the US dollar.

The latest date that the 'meaningful vote' can take place is the 28th March - the day before the UK is due to leave the EU. But Downing Street has said that it will be done before the 21st January.

8th December 2018: 'Norway Plus' Brexit

Amber Rudd has suggested that the United Kingdom could seek an alternative plan if Theresa May's withdrawal agreement is rejected by Parliament.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said that the UK could look to a 'Norway plus' model, which would mean continued freedom of movement of people, goods and services, continued contribution to the EU budget, and remaining in the customs union - without having a vote on new rules and regulation.

Sir Vince Cable acknowledged that a 'Norway plus' model would be better than Theresa May's deal, but said there wasn't much point in pursuing it because "you might as well be sitting at the table and having a vote".

4th December 2018: Parliament Contempt Vote

Politicians will debate a motion finding Ministers in contempt for their failure to publish the full legal advice concerning the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The Attorney General Geoffrey Cox made a statement to the House of Commons where he said the UK would be "indefinitely committed" to EU customs rules if trade talks broke down.

But he added it was a "calculated risk" and does not believe "we will be trapped in it permanently".

4th December 2018: UK Can Unilaterally Withdraw Article 5

A top European law officer has said that the UK should be able to withdraw Article 50 within the two years after its submission without the consent from the other EU member states.

Manuel Campos Sanches-Bordona said that any country who decides to leave the EU should also have the power to change its mind during the two-year exit process.

While not binding, the advice means that, should it decide to, the UK can stop Brexit.

The government attempted to stop the ECJ hearing the case, initially brought by Scottish politicians, but the Supreme Court rejected the appeal.

25th November 2018: Theresa May's Brexit Deal Accepted By EU Leaders

In less than 40 minutes, the other 27 EU leaders unanimously backed the Prime Minister's Brexit deal which had taken 18 months to negotiate.

Theresa May said that she would put the deal to a vote in the House of Commons before Christmas, but MP's across all parties have expressed concern over the deal.

Former Conservative Party leader and prominent Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith said he "certainly won't" support the PM's deal, arguing the UK had given the EU "everything they've asked for".

But European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker has warned Britain cannot expect to get a better Brexit deal if MPs reject the agreement in Parliament.

20th November 2018: Government Loses Supreme Court Appeal Over Revoking Article 50 Case

The UK Supreme Court refused the government's bid to block a court case relating to the revoking of Article 50 from reaching the European Court of Justice.

The legal case was brought by anti-Brexit politicians and campaigners, and the Scottish Court hearing the case referred it to the ECJ. But the government made an appeal at the Supreme Court to prevent the hearing from happening.

The ruling against the government means that the ECJ will examine whether the UK can withdraw Article 50 if British MPs voted to do so.

The European Court of Justice is expected to hear the case on November 27th 2018.

16th November 2018: Theresa May Takes Calls From LBC Listeners

At the end of what has been a turbulent week, Theresa May joined Nick Ferrari in the LBC studio for a phone-in to take questions from listeners.

As well as defending her position as Prime Minister, she revealed that her insulin medication comes from the EU, and insisted that the European Union made just as many compromises when it came to her draft Withdrawal Agreement as the UK.

Amid speculation that Michael Gove was approached to be the new Brexit Secretary following the resignation of Dominic Raab, Theresa May said that she had a "very good conversation" with him but ruled out having appointed anybody to the vacant position.

15th November 2018: Draft Agreement Fall Out

Following the publication of Draft Withdrawal Agreement, the second Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned the position. Cabinet Minister Esther McVey also resigned alongside junior ministers Suella Braverman and Shailesh Vara.

Prime Minister Theresa May faced three hours of questions in the House of Commons and could potentially face a vote of no confidence from Tory MPs. Jacob Rees-Mogg handed in his letter to the 1922 Committee, saying "it is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place".

- How Many Tory MP's Have Sent Letters Of No Confidence To The 1922 Committee?

- Conservative Leadership: What Is The 1922 Committee?

Theresa May later delivered a press conference at Downing Street where she insisted she would not step down and instead will "see this through".

14th November 2018: Draft Brexit Agreement Cabinet Meeting

After a 5-hour-long Cabinet Meeting, Theresa May gave a short statement outside 10 Downing Street where she said Ministers had agreed to back her Draft Brexit Agreement which she says takes the UK "significantly closer" to delivering on the result of the EU referendum.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was expected to travel to Brussels after the Cabinet Meeting to meet with EU negotiator Michel Barnier, however this trip was cancelled.

12th November 2018: Theresa May Says Negotiations Are "In The Endgame"

Theresa May declares negotiations between the UK and EU are now "in the endgame" as negotiators work through the night to break the Brexit deadlock.

In a speech at the annual Lord Mayor's Banquet in the City of London, she said that "both sides want to reach an agreement, but what we are negotiating is immensely difficult."

22nd October 2018: Theresa May Updates Parliament On Brexit Negotiations

The Prime Minister said that 95% of a Brexit deal had been agreed with European Union negotiators, amid speculation that she could face a no-confidence vote at the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers.

Theresa May said that the issue of the Irish border was still not yet resolved, but agreements over how Brexit will impact Gibraltar and the UK's military base in Cyprus had been reached.

20th October 2018: People's Vote March

More than half a million people took to the streets of London in protest for a second referendum.

Led by cross-party Remainers Chuka Umunna, Anna Soubry, Sir Vince Cable, and Caroline Lucas, the People's Vote march was one of the biggest protests in UK history - second after the 2003 Stop The War Coalition protest which drew crowds of 750,000.

Alaister Campbell, Eddie Izzard, Sadiq Khan, Steve Coogan, Delia Smith, Richard Bacon, Deborah Meadan were among the high profile attendees.

At the same time, a pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave rally in Harrogate, led by Nigel Farage, was attended by around 1,200 people.

14th October 2018: Dominic Raab's Unscheduled Meeting With Michel Barnier

After former Brexit secretary David Davis called for a Cabinet revolt against Theresa May, his successor was summoned to Brussels for last-minute "face-to-face" talks ahead of a summit of EU leaders.

The unscheduled meeting between Dominic Raab and Michel Barnier are said to have focused on Northern Ireland and other "big issues still to resolve".

Diplomats from the other 27 EU member states were later summoned for an update on the Brexit process, adding to the speculation that an exit deal was close. But Michel Barnier denied that a deal had been reached in a Tweet, saying that "some key issues are still open", including the issue of the Irish border.

Speaking in the House of Commons after the meeting, Theresa May said that a deal with the European Union is "achievable", and that real progress has been made towards the withdrawal agreement and a future trade deal.

However, speaking about the backstop, she describe the EU as demanding "a backstop to the backstop" - where Northern Ireland would comply with single market rules as well as the UK remaining in the customs union. She said that a backstop solution may be required before a final deal was agreed, however ruled out the possibility of it applying solely to Northern Ireland.

4th October 2018: "Canada+++"

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that the EU's offer has been a 'Canada+++' deal "from the very beginning", and was a "true measure of respect".

Boris Johnson described the offer as a "superb way forward", and Nigel Farage urged the Prime Minister to "take it and run".

30th September 2018: Conservative Party Conference

After Donald Tusk accused the Chequers proposal of "undermining the single market", eyes fell on senior Tories at the Conservative Party Conference.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, insisted that 'Chequers was not dead'. He told Nick Ferrari that he knew the European Union wouldn't agree to Chequers, but is willing to work with them to find common ground.

"We knew they wouldn't like it because it tests their red lines, it challenges all their preconceptions," he said.

20th September 2018: EU Leaders Reject Chequers

The 'EU 27' rejected Theresa May's Chequers proposal, saying it was "unworkable".

The French President Emmanuel Macron said Brexit had been sold to the British public by “liars”, and the European Commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker and its chief negotiator Michel Barnier have repeatedly said that the Chequers plan crosses EU red lines.

The following day, Theresa May delivered a speech at Downing Street in which she said the UK and EU were "at an impasse" over customs arrangements and issues surrounding the Irish border.

Summing up the speech, LBC's political editor Theo Usherwood said: "No deal just moved a massive step closer."

21st July 2018: Brexit White Paper

The government publishes its Brexit White Paper, which included several areas of focus.

On the economy, the white paper outlines plans for "developing a broad and deep economic relationship with the EU that maximises future prosperity" and "minimises disruption to trade between the UK and EU, protecting jobs and livelihoods" without hindering trade opportunities around the world.

For communities, a "shared prosperity fund" was proposed, with ending free movement with a new immigration system, and also supporting farming and fisheries.

The government are keen to safeguard the 'constitutional integrity' of the UK, without having a hard Irish border and protecting the Northern Ireland peace process.

On democracy, when the UK leaves the EU it will leave EU institutions and 'reclaim sovereignty', and make sure that laws are made in the United Kingdom.

7th July 2018: The Chequers Proposal

Theresa May summons Cabinet Ministers to Chequers to discuss Brexit and the possibility of a no-deal scenario.

The deal reached between ministers and Theresa May, which is also known as 'the Prime Minister's deal' or the 'Chequers deal', is made up of 12 points. They mean that the UK would keep close ties with the EU, creating an EU-UK free-trade area and a common rulebook. There would be no freedom of movement and no paying the EU, but the UK could still strike other trade deals.

David Davis resigns as the Brexit Secretary a day after the Chequers proposal was agreed by the Cabinet. A day later, Boris Johnson resigned as the Foreign Secretary.

19th March 2018: Transition Period Agreed

The UK and EU agreed a date to end the transition period, the status of EU citizens living in the UK before and after Brexit, and fishing policy.

David Davis and Michel Barnier agreed that EU citizens arriving in the UK between the last day of EU membership and the end of the transitional period will have the same rights and guarantees as those who arrived before Brexit - with the same applied to UK expats in EU countries

Mr Davis said that the agreement would 'smooth the path to a future permanent relationship'.

15th December 2017: Negotiations Move To Second Phase

The UK and EU agree to move forward to the second phase of negotiations, after an agreement is reached on the divorce bill, Irish border, and EU citiezens' rights.

13th December 2017: Government Forced To Give Vote On Final Deal

Tory rebels side with the Labour Party, and force the government to guarantee a vote on the final Brexit deal once it is agreed with Brussels.

Dominic Grieve tabled an amendment to the Brexit bill calling for parliament to have a meaningful vote on the deal with the EU and was one of 11 Tory MPs to vote for it.

22nd September 2017: Florence Speech

Amid a deadlock in negotiations, Theresa May delivers her Florence speech in an effort to move Brexit talks forward.

Theresa May said that a transition period to bridge the gap between leaving the EU and and beginning a new trade relationship could last for two years, and that access to the single market would "continue on current terms".

The Prime Minister also said that Britain would "honour commitments" to the European Union financially, so that no member state has to pay more or receive less during the current budget in contributing "our fair share of the costs".

Speaking about the Irish border, she said that both sides had agreed that there should not be any physical infrastructure at the border, but did not give suggestion on what could be implemented instead.

26th June 2017: Formal Negotiations Begin

Formal negotiations between the United Kingdom and European Union begin.

8th June 2017: Theresa May's Snap Election

Theresa May's snap election resulted in the Conservative Party losing the Commons majority David Cameron won in 2015.

The hung parliament resulted with the Tories agreeing a "confidence and supply" deal with the DUP, a pro-Union and pro-Brexit party in Northern Ireland.

31st March 2017: Brexit Negotiation Guidelines

Donald Tusk published the EU's guidelines for negotiations between the UK and European Union for the Brexit process.

EU leaders unanimously agreed the guidelines in less than 15 minutes into a summit held in Brussels in April.

They said that key issues such as citizens' rights, the divorce bill, and the Irish border will need to have been resolved before any talks of a trade deal can begin.

30th March 2017: The EU Withdrawal Bill

The details of the 'Great Repeal Bill' are published by the government.

Now referred to as the EU Withdrawal Bill, the bill ensures European law will no longer apply in the UK after Brexit.

It is believed that there are about 12,000 EU regulations in force in the UK, which will be copied across into domestic UK law to ensure a smooth transition on the day after Brexit. This is to avoid a 'black hole' in the UK statute book, and to avoid disruption to businesses and individual citizens.

Once out of the European Union, the UK parliament will then be able to amend, repeal, and improve individual laws as desired.

29th March 2017: Article 50 Triggered

Theresa May signs a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk giving notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The letter was delivered at 12:20 (UK time) by the British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow.

UK ambassador to the EU delivers Theresa May's letter triggering Article 50.
UK ambassador to the EU delivers Theresa May's letter triggering Article 50. Picture: PA

14th February 2017: Parliament Votes To Allows Article 50

Parliament votes to allow Theresa May to trigger Article 50 with 498 MP's supporting the motion: a majority of 384.

114 MPs voted against the trigger of Article 50 last night, including 47 Labour MPs who rebelled against leader Jeremy Corbyn. Here is the full list.

17th January 2017: Lancaster House Speech

Theresa May delivers her Lancaster House speech, setting out the type of Brexit deal she will be perusing when negotiations begin.

Following the speech, there was a quite a lot of praise for May - with the pound soaring in the aftermath of her laying out the Brexit plans of her government.

3rd November 2016: Article 50 High Court Challenge

The High Court rules that Theresa May does not have the power to trigger Article 50 without first winning a vote by MPs in parliament.

Three senior judges ruled that the government can only proceed with the UK's exit of the European Union once it has approval from the House of Commons, after Investment manager Gina Miller brought a legal case against the government.

23rd June 2016: The EU Referendum

The UK votes to leave the European Union with 51.9% of the vote. The referendum had a turnout of 72.2%.

David Cameron announced the day after that he would resign as Prime Minister, and Theresa May was announced as his replacement on the 13th July 2016.

Nigel Farage resigns as the leader of Ukip, saying he has 'fulfilled his political ambition'.

Nigel Farage at a Leave.EU referendum party.
Nigel Farage at a Leave.EU referendum party. Picture: PA

7th May 2015: General Election

David Cameron's Conservative Party wins a general election with a majority of 12 on a manifesto promising an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union.

The Liberal Democrats suffered the most in the election, losing 49 of its 57 seats with a manifesto that promised the UK would play a "constructive part" in the EU. The SNP made big gains in Scotland, taking seats away from the Labour Party.

Ukip held onto its first elected seat in Clacton on the Essex coast which it gained in a 2014 by-election after Douglas Carswell defected from the Conservative Party. He stayed on as the constituency's MP for his new party, but later quit Ukip and continued to sit as an independent MP. He lost his seat to the Conservative candidate when Theresa May called a snap-election in 2017.

Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg both resigned their positions shortly after the election.

Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg resigned as leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat party's after the 2015 general election.
Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg resigned as leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat party's after the 2015 general election. Picture: PA

22nd May 2014: European Parliament Elections

Nigel Farage's Ukip party wins 26% of the vote in the European elections, and becomes the UK's biggest representative at the European Parliament.

The Labour Party also gained seats with Ed Miliband, with an increase of 9% of the share of the vote, while the Conservative Party lost seven seats and Liberal Democrats lost 10 seats.

23rd January 2013: David Cameron's Referendum Promise

Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech in which he said the British people must "have their say" on Europe and promised an in/out referendum by the end of 2017 if the Conservatives win the next election.

Eurosceptics welcomed the speech as it promised the referendum, although some said they would have wanted one sooner.

But Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg warned that the proposal would cause uncertainty and have a "chilling effect" on jobs and growth.

The Houses of Parliament in Westminster
The Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Picture: Getty

What Happens Next To Brexit?

MP's "Meaningful" Vote On Theresa May's Deal

MPs were expected to vote on Theresa May's withdrawal agreement on Tuesday 11th December, however in a statement to the House of Commons the Prime Minister announced she is delaying it.

No new date for the vote has been set, but the latest it could be is March 28th 2019 - the day before the Brexit deadline.

29th March 2019: Brexit Day

At 11pm, the UK is scheduled to end its membership of the European Union. However the transitional period will remain in place until the end of 2020.

31st December 2020: End Of Transition Period

The end of 2020 will mark the end of the transition period, but the draft Withdrawal Agreement sets the possibility of extending this for an undecided amount of time.

European Union citizens arriving in the UK between the last day of EU membership and the end of the transitional period will have the same rights and guarantees as those who arrived before Brexit - with the same applied to UK expats in EU countries.

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