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Three years and three Brexit ministers later, the time for divorce has finally arrived. The United Kingdom's exit from the European Union has been long and painful: the decision was unilateral, the separation came after 45 years of union, it took three years to agree and the process has and will have consequences worldwide. This is the chronology of the end of a relationship that was never quite easy.
JUNE 5, 1975: FIRST REFERENDUM ON EUROPE
To understand how the British have arrived at the present time, it should be noted that the divorce may have arrived decades earlier. The United Kingdom did not become a member of the European Economic Community until 1973 and, two years later, the Harold Wilson Labor Government raised the first consultation on Europe: "Do you think the United Kingdom should remain in the European Economic Community (the Common Market)? ", Was raised. In 1975, 67% of British voters said 'yes' to Europe.
It has been four decades of ups and downs. London has always shown greater reluctance to integrate between community countries. But the arrival of Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street in 1979 marks a shift in relations between London and the EU. The country was then going through an economic crisis, with rising unemployment and continuing strikes, and was preparing to implement a reform process with the privatization of many state industries. Over time, the Iron Lady begins to apply a more Eurosceptic attitude. In 1984 he stood before his European partners.
With Thatcher, the British get the so-called British "return", an annual reimbursement as part of their contribution to European finance aimed at offsetting their lower use of agricultural aid. But London negotiates hard; and with his successor, John Major, the country is exempt from the third phase of the Economic and Monetary Union: the introduction of the euro.
JANUARY 23, 2013: CAMERON PROMISES THE REFERENDUM
On January 23, 2013, the then conservative candidate, David Cameron, promises a referendum on the permanence in the EU before 2017, if he is re-elected in the 2015 elections. The British make him premier and he complies. On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom returns to the polls to decide for the second time about its future in Europe. With a participation of 72% and almost 52% of the votes, the country decides to end the relationship. Cameron, who today recognizes that the current situation depresses him, resigns on June 24 and on July 13 his successor takes over. Theresa May enters the scene and opens a new stage of Brexit.
JANUARY 17, 2017: THERESA MAY, NEW PREMIER
The new premier announces that the United Kingdom will abandon the single market and the customs union, and that Parliament will vote on the final agreement reached with Brussels. May then pronounces a phrase that accompanies him in his legislature: "A 'no agreement' is better than a bad agreement"
MARCH 29, 2017: ACTIVATION OF ARTICLE 50
Nine months after the referendum, the president signs the letter invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, whereby a Member State can voluntarily leave the EU. This gesture opens an exit and negotiation process with Brussels that must be completed before March 30, 2019. The countdown begins.
JUNE 8, 2017: MAY LOSE THE ABSOLUTE MAJORITY
In order to expand its fragile parliamentary majority and be able to face the tough divorce negotiations with the EU, Theresa May advances the general elections. Their aspirations are frustrated by staying at eight seats and losing the absolute majority. After agreeing with the Northern Irish unionists to govern, the premier begins to negotiate with Brussels to reach an agreement that avoids the apocalypse: the hard Brexit.
JUNE 26, 2017: THE NEGOTIATIONS START
The meetings begin to decide how the departure will be. For months, negotiators on both sides debate the new rights and responsibilities of the United Kingdom outside the EU: the conditions for trading in the single market, the rights of European citizens living in British territory, international cooperation, Gibraltar, the two Irlandas ...
NOVEMBER 10, 2017: NOTICE OF DEPARTURE DATE
May sets the date and time for the disconnection: 23.00 GMT on March 29, 2019. A 'dateline' that is never met.
DECEMBER 9, 2017: FIRST AGREEMENT
At the end of the year, and after hours of negotiation, the divorce begins to take shape. Jean-Claude Juncker and May close a first historical agreement at dawn on the conditions of the break with the United Kingdom, the first country to leave the Union in 60 years.
London and Brussels agree that the United Kingdom pay a bill of between 40 and 45 billion euros; that the rights of European citizens in the country are guaranteed and that there will be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, among other things. In addition, that month, the House of Commons approves to vote on the final agreement of Brexit, which gives Westminster the last word on Brexit.
JULY 2018: CHECKERS PLAN
Of all the Brexit options envisaged, May proposes to Europe a 'soft' Brexit agreement that maintains a free trade area after divorce to avoid the hard border in Ireland that puts the Good Friday Agreements at risk. The terms of the premier proposal provoke chain resignations and sharpen the division into conservative ranks.
NOVEMBER 25, 2018: GOOD VIEW OF THE 27
Finally, the leaders of the 27 validate the agreement, which includes the famous safeguard to ensure that, in no case, it returns to a physical border between the two Irlandas that puts peace at risk. This clause has been the red line throughout all Brexit negotiations.
JANUARY 15, 2019: REJECTION OF THE PARLIAMENT
And that is when Theresa May's nightmare begins. The deputies reject the Withdrawal Agreement by a majority of 230 votes , the biggest defeat of a government in the country's history.
MARCH 12, 2019: SECOND VOTE AND DECISIVE MONTH
Less than three weeks before the divorce and after traveling 'in extremis' to Brussels to meet with Juncker and Barnier, May gets the EU to grant additional guarantees on the safeguard, for which London can unilaterally renounce the Customs Union if not There is good faith in negotiations about the future relationship. However, the EU offer is not enough for either Westminster or the DUP unionists, who vote again against the Withdrawal Agreement by 391 votes and open two options: either there is hard Brexit, or London must request an extension .
APRIL 11, 2019: BREXIT DELAY
After hours of negotiations, the EU agrees to delay the divorce to avoid the abrupt departure from the United Kingdom. And it is set as a new date on October 31.
MAY 24, 2019: MAY DIMISION
After almost three years at the helm of the Government and trying three times for Westminster to back his agreement with Brussels, Theresa May announces his resignation and says goodbye to the "country he loves so much".
JULY 24, 2019: BORIS JOHSON, NEW PREMIER
And so, the last of the great protagonists of the Brexit soap opera: Boris Johnson enters the scene. The former mayor of London and former foreign minister wins the race to succeed May and is elected by the 'tories' deputies to complete the process of breaking with Europe. He is the favorite candidate of Donald Trump.
Since his arrival, Johnson has made a hard turn to Brexit . He promises that the United Kingdom will leave on October 31 "with or without agreement" and anticipates that London will not pay the millionaire divorce bill agreed by its predecessor if there is no agreement.
AUGUST 29, 2019: PARLIAMENT CLOSURE
Since arriving at Downing Street, Johnson has adopted a challenging attitude. In August, he made one of the most unpopular decisions of the Brexit labyrinth: he suspended Parliament by surprise until two weeks before the date of departure, on October 31, so that the opposition would not see a Brexit without agreement. The closure unleashes a chaotic situation in the country , with calls from the opposition to the British to take the streets.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2019: HARD BREXIT LOCK
To block Johnson's plans, the British Parliament moves forward with a bill that prevents the United Kingdom from leaving the EU without agreement on October 31, unless Parliament so decides. The text obliges the Government to ask Brussels for a new extension if a new agreement has not been reached.
SEPTEMBER 24: THE CLOSURE OF THE PARLIAMENT WAS ILLEGAL
The last setback for Boris came from the hand of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which states that the decision to suspend Parliament was illegal and involved an abuse of power. Westminster resumes its sessions after the Supreme ruling.
SEPTEMBER 2: JOHNSON PLAN FOR NORTHERN IRELAND
Against the clock, Boris Johnson sends to Brussels his plan for the two alternative Irlandas to the safeguard. In it, the Government undertakes to respect the Good Friday Agreements, also to create "broad areas of collaboration" between London and Dublin; a common regulatory zone for agricultural and manufactured products until 2025 and asks to recognize that Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the United Kingdom when the transition period ends in 2020.
OCTOBER 17: LONDON AND BRUSSELS ARRIVE TO AN AGREEMENT
After days of intense talks, Boris Johnson's plan convinces Brussels and the chief negotiators of both sides announce that they have reached a technical agreement. The final word will be Westminster , who plans to discuss the Brexit bill in an extraordinary session on the 19th; It would be the first time he met on a Saturday since the Falkland Islands War in 1982.
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