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Brexit (/ˈbrɛksɪt/ or /ˈbrɛɡzɪt/), short portmanteau of British exit from the European Union, is the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). In a referendum on 23 June 2016, a narrow majority (52%) of those voting supported leaving the EU. On 29 March 2017, the UK government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 at 11 p.m. UK time[1] (midnight Central European Time), when the period for negotiating a withdrawal agreement will end unless an extension is agreed.[2]

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the government's intention not to seek permanent membership of the European single market or the EU customs union after leaving the EU[3][4] and promised to repeal the European Communities Act of 1972 and incorporate existing European Union law into UK domestic law.[5] A new government department, the Department for Exiting the European Union, was created in July 2016. In 2018, the British Cabinet agreed to the Chequers Agreement, and these are the current proposals suggested from the UK under the Premiership of Theresa May.

Negotiations with the EU officially started in June 2017, aiming to complete the withdrawal agreement by October 2018. In June 2018, the UK and the EU published a joint progress report outlining agreement on issues including customs, VAT and Euratom.

The UK joined the European Communities (EC) in 1973, with membership confirmed by a referendum in 1975. In the 1970s and 1980s, withdrawal from the EC was advocated mainly by Labour Party members and trade union figures. From the 1990s, the main advocates of withdrawal were the newly founded UK Independence Party (UKIP) and an increasing number of Eurosceptic Conservative Party members. Prime Minister David Cameron held the referendum in fulfilment of a 2015 manifesto pledge. Cameron, who had campaigned for "Remain", resigned after the referendum result and was succeeded by Theresa May, who called a snap general election less than a year later, in which she lost her overall majority. Her minority government is supported in key votes by the Democratic Unionist Party.

Six weeks after the referendum, the Bank of England introduced quantitative easing and lower interest rates, thus allowing both depreciation of sterling and a rise in inflation that outpaced wage growth for most of 2017. The drop in the value of sterling has been claimed to have been caused in part by hedge-fund managers betting on Brexit against polls predicting a narrow victory for the "Remain" camp.[6]

There is a broad consensus in existing economic research that Brexit is likely to reduce the UK's real per capita income in the medium term and long term.[7][8][9] There is also agreement among economists that the Brexit referendum itself damaged the economy in the subsequent two years.[10] Studies on effects that have materialised since the referendum show annual losses of £404 for the average UK household from increased inflation, and losses between 2% and 2.5% of UK GDP.[11][12][13] Brexit is likely to reduce immigration from European Economic Area (EEA) countries to the UK,[14] and poses challenges for UK higher education and academic research.[15] As of August 2018, the size of the "divorce bill", the UK's inheritance of existing EU trade agreements, and relations with Ireland and other EU member states remain uncertain. The precise impact on the UK depends on whether the process will be a "hard" or a "soft" Brexit.

Contents

Terminology

In the wake of the referendum, many new pieces of Brexit-related jargon have entered popular use.

Brexit
Brexit (like its early variant, Brixit)[16] is a portmanteau of "British" and "exit". In popular usage, it was derived by analogy from Grexit, referring to a hypothetical withdrawal of Greece from the eurozone (and possibly also the EU).[17][18] However, the term Brexit may have first been used in reference to a possible UK withdrawal from the EU by Peter Wilding, in a Euractiv blog post on 15 May 2012 (this is given as the first attestation in the Oxford English Dictionary).[19][20][18]
Hard and soft Brexit
The terms "hard Brexit" and "soft Brexit" are often used unofficially in terms of the process, but commonly by news media,[21] and are understood to describe the prospective relationship between the UK and the EU after withdrawal, ranging from hard, which could involve the UK trading with the EU under the World Trade Organization's Bali Package, but with no obligation to accept free movement of people, to soft, which might involve retaining membership of the EU single market for goods and services and at least some free movement of people, according to European Economic Area rules.[22] The current prime minister, Theresa May, has prepared to implement the "Chequers Plan," which uses some "soft" aspects of Brexit.[23]
Blind Brexit
Coined in September 2018 to describe a scenario where the UK leaves the EU without clarity on the terms of a future trade deal,[24][25] EU and British negotiators would then have until 31 December 2020 to sign off on a future trade deal, during which time the UK will effectively remain a member of the EU, but with no voting rights.[26][27]
Divorce bill
It is expected that the UK will make a contribution toward financial commitments that were approved while the UK was still a member of the EU but are still outstanding. In the first phase of negotiations the total amount was referred to as the single financial settlement, or just the settlement. Especially in the media, this has been called an exit bill or divorce bill, while the EU talk of settling the accounts.[28] Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said the UK will not pay its financial settlement to the EU in a no-deal scenario.[29]
Chequers plan
The short name given by the media to "The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union", the government's white paper drawn up at Chequers and published on 12 July 2018 which sets out the sort of relationship the UK government wants with the EU after Brexit.[30][31]
Brexiteer
Those supporting Brexit are sometimes referred to as "Brexiteers".[32]
Remainer
Those in favour of the UK remaining in the EU are sometimes referred to as "Remainers".[33] The derogatory term "Remoaner" (a portmanteau of "remainer" and "moaner") is sometimes used by pro-Brexit media outlets.[34][35]

Background

The "Inner Six" European countries signed the Treaty of Paris in 1951, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The 1955 Messina Conference deemed that the ECSC was a success, and resolved to extend the concept further, thereby leading to the 1957 Treaties of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). In 1967 these became known as the European Communities (EC). The UK attempted to join in 1963 and 1967, but these applications were vetoed by the President of France, Charles de Gaulle.[36] After de Gaulle relinquished the French presidency the UK successfully applied for membership and the Conservative prime minister Edward Heath signed the Treaty of Accession in 1972,[37] Parliament passed the European Communities Act later in the year[38] and the UK became a member of the EC on 1 January 1973 with Denmark and Ireland.[39]

The opposition Labour Party contested the October 1974 general election with a commitment to renegotiate Britain's terms of membership of the EC and then hold a referendum on whether to remain in the EC on the new terms.[40] After Labour won the election, the United Kingdom held its first national referendum on whether the UK should remain in the European Communities in 1975. Despite significant division within the ruling Labour Party[41] all major political parties and the mainstream press supported continuing membership of the EC. On 5 June 1975, 67.2% of the electorate and all but two[42] UK counties and regions voted to stay in;[43] support for the UK to leave the EC in 1975 appears unrelated to the support for Leave in the 2016 referendum.[44]

Comparison of results of 1975 and 2016 referendums

The Labour Party campaigned in the 1983 general election on a commitment to withdraw from the EC without a referendum,[45] although after a heavy defeat Labour changed its policy.[45] In 1985, the Thatcher government ratified the Single European Act – the first major revision to the Treaty of Rome – without a referendum.

In October 1990, under pressure from senior ministers and despite Margaret Thatcher's deep reservations, the United Kingdom joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), with the pound sterling pegged to the deutschmark. Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister the following month, amid Conservative Party divisions arising partly from her increasingly Eurosceptic views. The United Kingdom and Italy were forced to withdraw from the ERM in September 1992, after the pound sterling and the lira came under pressure ("Black Wednesday").[46]

Under the Maastricht Treaty, the European Communities became the European Union on 1 November 1993,[47] reflecting the evolution of the organisation from an economic union into a political union.[48]

Referendum Party and UKIP

In 1994, Sir James Goldsmith formed the Referendum Party to contest the 1997 general election on a platform of providing a referendum on the nature of the United Kingdom's relationship with the EU.[49][50] It fielded candidates in 547 constituencies at that election, and won 810,860 votes or 2.6% of the total votes cast,[51] although it failed to win a single parliamentary seat due to its vote being spread across the country. The Referendum Party disbanded after Goldsmith's death in 1997.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP), a Eurosceptic political party, was also formed in 1993. It achieved third place in the UK during the 2004 European elections, second place in the 2009 European elections and first place in the 2014 European elections, with 27.5% of the total vote. This was the first time since the 1910 general election that any party other than the Labour or Conservative parties had taken the largest share of the vote in a nationwide election.[52] UKIP's electoral success in the 2014 European election has been documented as the strongest correlate of the support for the leave campaign in the 2016 referendum.[53]

UKIP won two by-elections (triggered by defecting Conservative MPs) in 2014; in the 2015 general election it took 12.6% of the total vote, and held one of the two seats won in 2014.[54]

Opinion polls 1977–2015

Both pro- and anti-EU views have had majority support at different times since 1977.[55] In the European Communities membership referendum of 1975, two-thirds of British voters favoured continued EC membership.

In a statistical analysis published in April 2016, Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University defined Euroscepticism as the wish to sever or reduce the powers of the EU, and conversely Europhilia as the desire to preserve or increase the powers of the EU. According to this definition, the British Social Attitudes (BSA) surveys show an increase in euroscepticism from 38% (1993) to 65% (2015). Euroscepticism should, however, not be confused with the wish to leave the EU: the BSA survey for the period July–November 2015 shows that 60% backed the option "continue as an EU member", and only 30% backed the option to "withdraw".[56]

May 2015 United Kingdom General Election

In the Conservative Party manifesto for the United Kingdom general election, 2015 (held on 7 May 2015), the Conservative Party offered "an EU referendum by 2017".[57][58]

Referendum of 2016

Negotiations for EU reform

In 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron initially rejected calls for a referendum on the UK's EU membership,[59] but then suggested the possibility of a future referendum to endorse his proposed renegotiation of Britain's relationship with the EU.[60] According to the BBC, "The prime minister acknowledged the need to ensure the UK's [renegotiated] position within the European Union had 'the full-hearted support of the British people' but they needed to show 'tactical and strategic patience'."[61] Under pressure from many of his MPs and from the rise of UKIP, in January 2013, Cameron announced that a Conservative government would hold an in–out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017, on a renegotiated package, if elected in 2015.[62]

The Conservative Party won the 2015 general election with a majority. Soon afterwards the European Union Referendum Act 2015 was introduced into Parliament to enable the referendum. Cameron favoured remaining in a reformed European Union, and sought to renegotiate on four key points: protection of the single market for non-eurozone countries, reduction of "red tape", exempting Britain from "ever-closer union", and restricting EU immigration.[63]

In December 2015, opinion polls showed a clear majority in favour of remaining in the EU; they also showed support would drop if Cameron did not negotiate adequate safeguards for non-eurozone member states, and restrictions on benefits for EU citizens.[64]

The outcome of the renegotiations was announced in February 2016. Some limits to in-work benefits for new EU immigrants were agreed, but before they could be applied, a country such as the UK would have to get permission from the European Commission and then from the European Council.[65]

In a speech to the House of Commons on 22 February 2016, Cameron announced a referendum date of 23 June 2016, and commented on the renegotiation settlement.[66] He spoke of an intention to trigger the Article 50 process immediately following a leave vote, and of the "two-year time period to negotiate the arrangements for exit."[67]

Campaign groups

A "Vote Leave" poster in Omagh, Northern Ireland, saying "We send the EU £50 million every day. Let's spend it on our NHS instead."

The official campaign group for leaving the EU was Vote Leave[68] after a contest for the designation with Leave.EU.[69][70]

The official campaign to stay in the EU, chaired by Stuart Rose, was known as Britain Stronger in Europe, or informally as 'Remain'. Other campaigns supporting remaining in the EU included Conservatives In,[71] Labour in for Britain,[72] #INtogether (Liberal Democrats),[73] Greens for a Better Europe,[74] Scientists for EU,[75] Environmentalists For Europe,[76] Universities for Europe[77] and Another Europe is Possible.[78]

Referendum result

The result was announced on the morning of 24 June: 51.89% voted in favour of leaving the European Union, and 48.11% voted in favour of remaining a member of the European Union.[79][80] Comprehensive results are available from the UK Electoral Commission Referendum Results site. A petition calling for a second referendum attracted more than four million signatures,[81][82] but was rejected by the government on 9 July.[83]

United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016
National result
Choice Votes %
Leave the European Union 17,410,742 51.89%
Remain a member of the European Union 16,141,241 48.11%
Valid votes 33,551,983 99.92%
Invalid or blank votes 25,359 0.08%
Total votes 33,577,342 100.00%
Registered voters and turnout 46,500,001 72.21%
Voting age population and turnout 51,356,768 65.38%
Source: Electoral Commission
National referendum results (without spoiled ballots)
Leave:
17,410,742 (51.9%)
Remain:
16,141,241 (48.1%)

Results by region (left) and by council district (GB) & UK Parliament constituency (NI) (right)
  Leave
  Remain

Demographic analysis of voters

According to Thomas Sampson, an economist at the London School of Economics, "Older and less-educated voters were more likely to vote 'leave'... A majority of white voters wanted to leave, but only 33 percent of Asian voters and 27 percent of black voters chose leave. There was no gender split in the vote, with 52 percent of both men and women voting to leave. Leaving the European Union received support from across the political spectrum... Voting to leave the European Union was strongly associated with holding socially conservative political beliefs, opposing cosmopolitanism, and thinking life in Britain is getting worse rather than better."[8] Econometric studies show "first, education and, to a lesser extent, age were the strongest demographic predictors of voting behavior... Second, poor economic outcomes at the individual or area level were associated with voting to leave... Third, support for leaving the European Union is strongly associated with self-reported opposition to immigration, but not with exposure to immigration."[8]

Resignations, contests, and appointments

After the result was declared, Cameron announced that he would resign by October.[84] He stood down on 13 July 2016, with Theresa May becoming Prime Minister after a leadership contest. George Osborne was replaced as Chancellor of the Exchequer by Philip Hammond, former Mayor of London Boris Johnson was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and David Davis became Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn lost a vote of confidence among his parliamentary party, and an unsuccessful leadership challenge was launched. On 4 July, Nigel Farage announced his resignation as leader of UKIP.[85]

Irregularities

On 11 May 2018, the Electoral Commission found against Leave.EU, which ran a separate campaign to the official pro-Brexit group Vote Leave, following its investigations into alleged irregularities during the referendum campaign.[86] Leave.EU's co-founder Arron Banks has stated that he rejects the outcome of the investigation and will be challenging it in court.[87]

In July 2018, the UK Electoral Commission found Vote Leave to have broken electoral law, spending over its limit.[88] Also, the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee released an interim report on Disinformation and ‘fake news’, stating that the largest donor in the Brexit campaign, Arron Banks, used money from UK sources, and may have been financed by the Russian government.[89] This has led to litigation to declare the result is void.[90][91]

Procedure for leaving the EU

Letter from Theresa May invoking Article 50

Withdrawal from the European Union is governed by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Under the Article 50 invocation procedure, a member notifies the European Council, whereupon the EU is required to negotiate and conclude an agreement with [the leaving] State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the [European] Union. The negotiation period is limited to two years unless extended, after which the treaties cease to apply.[92] There was a discussion whether parallel negotiation of withdrawal terms and future relationships under Article 50 are appropriate (Chancellor Merkel's initial view) or whether Britain did not have the right to negotiate future trade with the EU27 as this power is arguably reserved to the EU as long as the UK is a member (the view of a European Commission lawyer).[93]

Although the 2015 Referendum Act did not expressly require Article 50 to be invoked,[94] the UK government stated that it would expect a leave vote to be followed by withdrawal.[95][96] Following the referendum result, Cameron resigned and said that it would be for the incoming Prime Minister to invoke Article 50.[97][98]

The Supreme Court ruled in the Miller case in January 2017 that the government needed parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50.[99][100] Subsequently, the House of Commons overwhelmingly voted, on 1 February 2017, for a government bill authorising the prime minister to invoke Article 50,[101] and the bill passed into law as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017. Theresa May then signed a letter invoking Article 50 on 28 March 2017, which was delivered on 29 March by Tim Barrow, the UK's ambassador to the EU, to European Council President Donald Tusk.[102][103][104]

Reversibility

It has been argued that the Article 50 withdrawal process may be halted unilaterally by the British government,[105] with which opinion the author of Article 50 itself, Lord Kerr, has expressed agreement.[106] The European Parliament's Brexit committee has noted that unilateral revocation, regardless of its legality, poses a substantial moral hazard, with EU member states potentially able to abuse it to blackmail the Union.[107]

Date of Brexit

Both parties to the withdrawal negotiation are bound by Article 50 (3), which states explicitly that the EU treaties will cease to apply "from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after" the withdrawal notification unless the EU Council and UK agree to extend the two-year period.

On the EU side, the EU's Directives for the negotiation of an agreement notes that "The Agreement should set a withdrawal date which is at the latest 30 March 2019 at 00:00 (Brussels time)," – i.e. Central European Time – "unless the European Council, in agreement with the United Kingdom, unanimously decides to extend this period in accordance with Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union."[108]

On the British side, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, section 20(1) defines "exit day" as "29 March 2019 at 11.00 p.m".

Negotiations

Timing

The British and EU negotiators agreed that initial negotiations, relating especially to residency rights, would commence in June 2017 (immediately after the French presidential and parliamentary elections), and full negotiations, relating especially to trading agreements, could commence in October 2017 (immediately after the German federal election, 2017).[109][110][111] The first day of talks was 19 June.[110]

History

On 28 June 2016, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, and on the following day European Council President Tusk, stated that the UK could remain in the European Single Market (ESM) only if the UK accepted its four freedoms of movement: for goods, capital, services, and labour.[112][113] In October, Prime Minister Theresa May emphasised that ending the jurisdiction of EU law and free movement from Europe were the UK's priorities, along with British and EU companies having maximum freedom to trade in the UK and the ESM.[114][115]

In November 2016, May proposed that Britain and the other EU countries mutually guarantee the residency rights of the 3.3 million EU immigrants in Britain and those of the 1.2 million British citizens living on the Continent, in order to exclude their fates being bargained during Brexit negotiations.[116] Despite initial approval from a majority of EU states, May's proposal was blocked by Tusk and Merkel.[117]

In January 2017, the Prime Minister presented 12 negotiating objectives and confirmed that the UK government would not seek permanent single market membership.[118] The European Parliament's lead negotiator Guy Verhofstadt responded that there could be no "cherry-picking" by the UK in the talks.[119]

The statutory period for negotiation began on 29 March 2017, when the UK formally submitted a letter notifying withdrawal. The letter called for a "deep and special relationship" between the UK and the EU, and warned that failure to reach an agreement would result in EU-UK trade under World Trade Organisation terms, and a weakening of the UK's co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism. The letter suggested prioritising an early deal on the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa, and stated that the UK would not seek to remain within the ESM. Instead, the UK would seek a free trade agreement with the EU.[120] In response, Merkel insisted that the EU would not discuss future co-operation without first settling the terms of leaving the EU; Verhofstadt referred to the letter as "blackmail" with regard to the point on security and terrorism, and EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK's decision to quit the block was a "choice they will regret one day".[121]

On 29 April 2017, immediately after the first round of French presidential elections, the EU27 heads of state accepted negotiating guidelines prepared by Tusk.[122] The guidelines take the view that Article 50 permits a two-phased negotiation, in which the UK first agrees to a financial commitment and to lifelong benefits for EU citizens in Britain, and then negotiations on a future relationship can begin.[123] In the first phase, the EU27 would demand the UK pay a "divorce bill", initially estimated as amounting to £52bn[124] and then, after additional financial demands from Germany, France, and Poland, to £92bn.[125] A report of the European Union Committee of the House of Lords, published on 4 March 2017, stated that if there is no post-Brexit deal at the end of the negotiating period, the UK could withdraw without payment.[126]

On 22 May 2017, the European Council authorised its negotiators to start the Brexit talks and it adopted its negotiating directives.[127] The first day of talks took place on 19 June, where Davis and Michel Barnier, European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, agreed to prioritise the question of residency rights, while Davis conceded that a discussion of the Northern Irish border would have to await future trade agreements.[128]

On 22 June 2017, Prime Minister May guaranteed that no EU citizen living legally in the UK would be forced to leave, and offered that any EU citizen who lived in the UK for more than five years until an unspecified deadline between March 2017 and March 2019 would enjoy the same rights as a UK citizen, conditional on the EU providing the same offer to British expatriates living in the EU.[129] The Prime Minister detailed her residency proposals on 26 June, but drew no concessions from EU negotiators,[130] who had declined to expedite agreement on expatriates by the end of June 2017,[131] and who are hoping for European courts to continue to have jurisdiction in the UK with regards to EU citizens, according to their negotiation aims published in May 2017.[132][133]

The second round of negotiations began in mid-July 2017. Progress was made on the Northern Irish border question; UK negotiators requested a detailed breakdown of the "divorce bill" demand; and the EU negotiators criticised the UK's citizenship rights offer.[134] David Davis did not commit to a net payment by the UK to the EU with regards to the requested divorce bill, while Michel Barnier would not compromise on his demand for the European Court of Justice to have continuing jurisdiction over the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit,[135] rejecting the compromise proposal of a new international body made up of British and EU judges.[136]

On 16 August 2017, the UK government disclosed the first of several papers detailing British ambitions following Brexit, discussing trade and customs arrangements.[137] On 23 August, Theresa May announced that Britain will leave the EU Court of Justice's direct jurisdiction when the Brexit transition period that is planned after March 2019 ends, but that both the British courts and the EU Court of Justice will also keep "half an eye" on each other's rulings afterwards as well.[138] One of the UK government's position papers published in August called for no additional restrictions for goods already on the market in the UK and EU.[139]

The third round of negotiations began on 28 August 2017. There was disagreement over the financial settlement; The Irish Times explained that British negotiators referred to the seven-year Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF or Maff) for the period 2014–2020 agreed by member states and the EU parliament as a "planning tool" for the next period rather than a legally-binding financial obligation on member states. The British case is that the MFF sets ceilings on spending under various headings and is later radically revised during the annual budget process when real legal obligations on each state arises. This contrasts with the EU Commission's methodology for calculating the UK Brexit bill which involves dividing the MFF into the shares historically agreed by each member state.[140] On the Irish border question there was a "breakthrough", with the British side guaranteeing free movement of EU citizens within the Common travel area constituting Ireland and the United Kingdom.[141]

On 5 September 2017, Davis said that "concrete progress" had been made over the summer in areas such as protecting the rights of British expats in the EU to access healthcare and over the future of the Irish border, while significant differences over the "divorce bill" remained.[142] On 9 September, the EU Commission published several negotiating papers, including one in which the EU concedes/declares that it is the responsibility of the UK to propose solutions for the post-Brexit Irish border. The paper envisages that a "unique" solution would be permissible here; in other words, any such exceptional Irish solution would not necessarily be a template for post-Brexit relationships with the other EU members.[143]

On 22 September 2017, May announced further details of her Brexit proposal.[144][145] In addition to offering 20 billion euros over a two-year transition period and continued acceptance of European immigrants,[146] she also offered a "bold new security relationship" with the EU which would be "unprecedented in its depth" and to continue to make "an ongoing contribution" to projects considered greatly to the EU and UK's advantage, such as science and security projects.[145][144] She also confirmed that the UK would not "stand in the way" of Juncker's proposals for further EU integration.[145][144] Barnier welcomed May's proposal as "constructive,"[147] but that it also "must be translated into negotiating positions to make meaningful progress".[147] Similarly, President of France Emmanuel Macron was adamant that the EU would not begin negotiations on future EU-UK relationships until "the regulation of European citizens, the financial terms of the exit, and the questions of Ireland" were "clarified" by the UK.[148]

The fourth round of talks began on 25 September, with Barnier declaring he had no mandate from the EU27 to discuss a transition deal suggested by Prime Minister May. Davis reiterated that the UK could honour commitments made during its EU membership only in the context of a future "special partnership" deal with the EU.[149]

At the European Council meeting of 19/20 October 2017, the 27 leaders of the EU states were to decide whether or not to start trade negotiations with the UK.[139] However, Davis has conceded that so soon after the German elections on 24 September, a German coalition government may not be in place in time for making this decision in October, delaying any European Council decision until their December meeting.[150][151]

EU negotiators have stated that an agreement must be reached between Britain and the EU by October 2018 in order to leave time for national parliaments to endorse Brexit.[147]

On 9 October 2017, May announced to the British Parliament that Britain could operate as an "independent trading nation" after Brexit if no trade deal is reached with the EU.[152]

In December 2017, EU leaders announced an agreement to begin the next phase of negotiations, with talks on a transition period after March 2019 to begin in early 2018 and discussions on the future UK-EU relationship, including trade and security, to begin in March.[153]

After elections in March 2018, the Italian president appointed a eurosceptic Italian government on 1 June 2018,[154] a development expected to affect the Brexit outcome.[155]

On 10 June 2018, the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar cleared the path for the June negotiations by postponing the Irish border question until the final Brexit deal in October 2018.[156]

On 19 June 2018, the UK and the EU published a joint statement outlining agreements at the negotiators' level. Michel Barnier praised the "dedication and commitment" of the negotiating teams, and said progress had been made in issues like customs, VAT and the European nuclear agreement, Euratom.[157][158]

Post-Article 50 British legislation

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

In October 2016, Theresa May promised a "Great Repeal Bill", which would repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and restate in UK law all enactments previously in force under EU law. Subsequently renamed the European Union (Withdrawal) bill, it was introduced to the House of Commons on 13 July 2017.[159]

On 12 September 2017, the bill passed its first vote and second reading by a margin of 326 votes to 290 votes in the House of Commons.[160] The bill was further amended on a series of votes in both Houses of Parliament. After the Act became law on 26 June 2018, the European Council decided on 29 June to renew its call on Member States and Union institutions to step up their work on preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes.[161]

The Withdrawal Act fixes the period ending 21 January 2019 for the government to decide on how to proceed if the negotiations have not reached agreement in principle on both the withdrawal arrangements and the framework for the future relationship between the UK and EU; while, alternatively, making future ratification of the withdrawal agreement as a treaty between the UK and EU depend upon the prior enactment of another act of Parliament for approving the final terms of withdrawal when the current Brexit negotiations are completed. In any event, the act does not alter the two-year period for negotiating allowed by Article 50 that ends at the latest on 29 March 2019 if the UK has not by then ratified a withdrawal agreement.

The Withdrawal Act which became law in June 2018 allows for various outcomes including no negotiated settlement.

Additional government bills

A report published in March 2017 by the Institute for Government commented that, in addition to the European Union (Withdrawal) bill, primary and secondary legislation will be needed to cover the gaps in policy areas such as customs, immigration and agriculture.[162] The report also commented that the role of the devolved legislatures was unclear, and could cause problems, and as many as fifteen new additional Brexit Bills may be required, which would involve strict prioritisation and limiting Parliamentary time for in-depth examination of new legislation.[163]

In 2016 and 2017, the House of Lords published a series of reports on Brexit-related subjects, including:

Euratom

The Nuclear Safeguards Bill 2017–19, relating to withdrawal from Euratom, was presented to Parliament in October 2017 and began its Report Stage in January 2018.[164]

Voting on the final outcome

Replying to questions at a parliamentary committee about Parliament's involvement in voting on the outcome of the negotiations with the EU, the Prime Minister said that "delivering on the vote of the British people to leave the European Union" was her priority. The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, commented that the government did not want a vote at the beginning of the process, to trigger Article 50, nor a vote at the end.[165]

Developments since the Referendum of 2016

Elections

Opinion polls in the fortnight following the referendum suggested that the immediate reaction in the Netherlands and other European countries was a decline in support for Eurosceptic movements.[166]

A general election was held on 8 June 2017, announced at short notice by the new Prime Minister Theresa May. The Conservative Party, Labour and UKIP made manifesto pledges to implement the referendum, although the Labour manifesto differed in its approach to Brexit negotiations, such as unilaterally offering permanent residence to EU immigrants.[167][168][169][170] The Liberal Democrat Party and the Green Party manifestos proposed a policy of remaining in the EU via a second referendum.[171][172][173] The Scottish Nationalist Party manifesto proposed a policy of waiting for the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and then holding a referendum on Scottish independence.[174][175] Compared to the 2015 general election, the Conservatives gained votes (but nevertheless lost seats and their majority in the House of Commons). Labour gained significantly on votes and seats, retaining its position as the second-largest party. The DUP and Sinn Féin also made gains in votes and seats. Parties losing votes included the SNP, Liberals, Greens, and especially UKIP.[176]

On 26 June 2017, Conservatives and the DUP reached a confidence and supply agreement whereby the DUP would back the Conservatives in key votes in the House of Commons over the course of the parliament. The agreement included additional funding of £1 billion for Northern Ireland, highlighted mutual support for Brexit and national security, expressed commitment to the Good Friday Agreement, and indicated that policies such as the state pension triple lock and winter fuel payments would be maintained.[177]

Economy

Six weeks after the referendum, the Bank of England sought to cushion the potential shock to the economy by lowering interest rates to the record low of 0.25%, and by creating 70 billion pounds of new money, thereby depreciating the pound and encouraging commercial banks to pass on lower borrowing costs.[178]

A year-long "wage squeeze" attributed to the referendum ended in February 2018, with wage growth catching up with inflation. Inflation had gradually risen to 3% before receding again. Since the referendum, absolute employment has continuously risen to previously unrecorded levels, and by early 2018 relative unemployment reached its lowest level (4.2%) recorded since 1975.[179]

During 2017 the UK continued to be the favourite European destination for foreign physical investment (as distinct from company takeovers), creating 50,000 new jobs, ahead of Germany (31,000 jobs) and France. Factors mentioned were sterling devaluation since the referendum, broadband, and American investment.[180]

Immigration

Official figures for June 2017 (published in February 2018) showed that net EU immigration to the UK had slowed to about 100,000 immigrants per year, corresponding to the immigration level of 2014. Meanwhile, immigration from non-EU countries had increased. Taken together, the two inflows into the UK result in an only slightly reduced net immigration of 230,000 newcomers in the year to June 2017. The Head of the Office of National Statistics suggested that Brexit could well be a factor for the slowdown in EU immigration, but cautioned there might be other reasons.[181]

Domestic impact on the United Kingdom

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) produced reports on the economic impact on 58 industries of Britain leaving the EU. The Labour Party made a freedom of information request for details about the reports, but DExEU said that publishing the information would undermine policy formulation, and that it needed to carry out policymaking in a "safe space".[182] Labour then proposed a motion of a rarely-used type known as a "humble address" in the Commons on 1 November 2017, calling for the papers to be released; the motion was passed unanimously. The leader of the house, Andrea Leadsom, said that there could be some delay while ministers decided how to release the information without prejudicing Brexit negotiations.[183]

Immigration

Long term

Immigration was cited as the second-most important reason for those voting to Leave. KPMG, based on a 2017 survey of 2,000 EU workers in the UK, estimated that about a million EU citizens working in the UK saw their future in Britain as over or hanging in the balance.[184]

A 2017 paper by King's College London economists Giuseppe Forte and Jonathan Portes found that "while future migration flows will be driven by a number of factors, macroeconomic and otherwise, Brexit and the end of free movement will result in a large fall in immigration from EEA countries to the UK."[185] According to a 2016 study by Portes, "The spectrum of options for UK immigration policy post Brexit remains wide... However, almost any plausible outcome will result in an increase in regulatory burdens on business; a reduction in the flows of both unskilled and skilled workers; and an increase in illegal working. The key question for policymakers will be how to minimise these negative impacts while at the same time addressing domestic political demands for increased control without antagonising our EU partners to the point of prejudicing other key aspects of the negotiations. This will not be an easy task."[14] Will Somerville of the Migration Policy Institute wrote that "Future migration levels are impossible to predict in the absence of policy and economic certainty", but estimated immediately after the referendum that the UK "would continue to receive 500,000 or more immigrants (from EU and non-EU countries taken together) per year, with annual net migration around 200,000".[186]

The decline in EEA immigration is likely to have an adverse impact on the British health sector.[187] According to the New York Times, Brexit "seems certain" to make it harder and costlier for the NHS, which already suffers from chronic understaffing, to recruit nurses, midwives and doctors from the rest of Europe.[187]

Immediate effects

Official figures in March 2017 indicated that EU immigration to the UK continued to exceed emigration, but the difference between immigration and emigration ("net migration") had fallen to its lowest for three years.[188] The number of EU nurses registering with the NHS fell from 1,304 in July 2016 to 46 in April 2017.[189]

Economic effects

Immediate effects

Research on the effects that have already materialised in the United Kingdom since the referendum results show that the referendum result pushed up UK inflation by 1.7 percentage points, leading to an annual cost of £404 for the average British household.[11] Another study on the effects that had already materialised found that by September 2018, the economic costs of the Brexit vote were already 2% of GDP.[12][190][191] A September 2018 analysis by the think tank Centre for European Reform showed that the losses amounted to 2.5% of GDP.[13]

According to a Financial Times analysis, the Brexit referendum results had by December 2017 reduced national British income by between 0.6% and 1.3%, which amounts to almost £350 million a week.[192] University of California, Berkeley, economist Barry Eichengreen noted in August 2017 that some of the adverse effects of uncertainty brought about by the Brexit referendum were being made apparent, as British consumer confidence was down and spending had declined to its lowest level in four years.[193] In November 2017, it was reported that European banks had reduced their UK-related assets by €350bn in the 12 months after Brexit vote, and that the trend was expected to increase ahead of the March 2019 Brexit deadline.[194]

Long-term economic analyses

There is overwhelming or near-unanimous agreement among economists that leaving the European Union will adversely affect the British economy in the medium- and long-term.[a] Surveys of economists in 2016 showed overwhelming agreement that Brexit would likely reduce the UK's real per-capita income level.[196][197][198] A 2017 survey of the existing academic literature found "the research literature displays a broad consensus that in the long run Brexit will make the United Kingdom poorer because it will create new barriers to trade, foreign direct investment, and immigration. However, there is substantial uncertainty over how large the effect will be, with plausible estimates of the cost ranging between 1 and 10 percent of the UK's income per capita."[8] These estimates differ depending on whether the UK stays in the European Single Market (for instance, by joining the EEA), makes a free trade agreement with the EU, or reverts to the trade rules that govern relations between all World Trade Organization members.[8] In January 2018, the UK government's own Brexit analysis was leaked; it showed that UK economic growth would be stunted by 2–8% for at least 15 years following secession from the EU, depending on the leave scenario.[206][207]

Most economists, including the UK Treasury, argue that being in the EU has a strong positive effect on trade and as a result the UK's trade would be worse off if it left the EU.[208][209][210][211] According to a group of University of Cambridge economists, under a "hard Brexit" whereby the UK reverts to WTO rules, one-third of UK exports to the EU would be tariff-free, one-quarter would face high trade barriers and other exports risk tariffs in the range of 1–10%.[212] A 2017 study based on data from 2010 found that "almost all UK regions are systematically more vulnerable to Brexit than regions in any other country. Due to their longstanding trade integration with the UK, Irish regions have levels of Brexit exposure, which are similar to those of the UK regions with the lowest levels of exposure, namely London and northern parts of Scotland. Meanwhile, the other most risk-exposed EU regions are all in southern Germany, with levels of risk which are typically half that of any UK or Irish region, and one third of that displayed by many UK regions. There is also a very noticeable economic geography logic to the levels of exposure with north-western European regions typically being the most exposed to Brexit, while regions in southern and eastern Europe are barely affected at all by Brexit, at least in terms of the trade linkages... Overall, the UK is far more exposed to Brexit risks than the rest of the EU."[213]

After the referendum, the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report funded by the Economic and Social Research Council which warned that Britain would lose up to £70 billion in reduced economic growth if it did not retain Single Market membership, with new trade deals unable to make up the difference.[214] One of these areas is financial services, which are helped by EU-wide "passporting" for financial products, which an Oliver Wyman report for a pro-EU lobby group estimated indirectly accounted for up to 71,000 jobs and £10 billion of tax annually,[215][not in citation given] and some banks announced plans to relocate some of their operations outside the UK.[216] According to a 2016 article by John Armour, Professor of Law and Finance at Oxford University, "a 'soft' Brexit, whereby the UK leaves the EU but remains in the single market, would be a lower-risk option for the City than other Brexit options, because it would enable financial services firms to continue to rely on regulatory passporting rights."[217]

A 2017 study found, on the basis of "plausible, empirically based estimates of the likely impacts on growth and wages using relationships from the existing empirical literature", that "Brexit-induced reductions in migration are likely to have a significant negative impact on UK GDP per capita (and GDP), with marginal positive impacts on wages in the low-skill service sector."[218][8] It is unclear how changes in trade and foreign investment will interact with immigration, but these changes are likely to be important.[8]

Former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King commented that warnings of economic doom regarding leaving the EU were overstated and that the UK should leave the single market and probably the customs union in order to gain more opportunities, which would lead to improved British economic performance.[219]

Short-term economic analyses

Short-term macroeconomic forecasts by the Bank of England and other banks of what would happen immediately after the Brexit referendum proved to be too pessimistic.[200][220] The assessments assumed that the referendum results would create greater uncertainty on financial markets and in business and reduce consumer confidence more than it did.[220] According to Oxford University economist Simon Wren-Lewis, "short term unconditional macroeconomic forecasts are extremely unreliable" and they are something that academic economists do not do, unlike banks.[221] Wren-Lewis notes that long-term projections of the impact of Brexit, on the other hand, have a strong empirical foundation.[221] University of California, Berkeley, economist Barry Eichengreen wrote that economists "have had little success at reliably predicting when and why uncertainty arises" and that it is unclear how severe the impact of uncertainty actually is.[193] King's College London economist Jonathan Portes said that "short-term economic forecasting is very unreliable", and compared short-term economic forecasts to weather forecasts and the long-term economic forecasts to climate forecasts: the methodologies used in long-term forecasts are "well-established and robust".[220] Other economists note that central bank forecasts are not intended for pinpoint accuracy.[220] London School of Economics economist Thomas Sampson notes that it is harder to assess the short-term impact that the transition process to Brexit will have, but that long-term assessments of the post-Brexit period are more reliable.[8] According to the Financial Times, economists are in agreement that the short-term effects are uncertain.[200]

On 5 January 2017 Andy Haldane, the Chief Economist and the Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics at the Bank of England, said that the BoE's own forecast predicting an immediate economic downturn due to the referendum result was inaccurate and noted strong market performance immediately after the referendum,[222][223][224] although some have pointed to prices rising faster than wages.[225] Haldane said that the field of economics was "to some degree in crisis" because of its failure to predict the financial crisis of 2007–2008, and added that the Brexit economic forecast was only inaccurate in its near-term assessment, and that over time, the Bank still expected that Brexit would harm economic growth.[223] Imperial College London economist David Miles responded to Haldane, saying that there was no crisis in economics, and that economists did not purport to be able to forecast with full certainty or predict the precise timing of events.[226] Miles said that it was widely acknowledged among economists that short-term forecasts, such as the BoE's, are unreliable.[226]

Loss of agencies

Brexit requires relocating the offices and staff of the European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority, currently based in London.[227] The agencies together employ more than 1,000 people and will respectively relocate to Amsterdam and Paris.[228] The EU is also considering restricting the clearing of euro-denominated trades to eurozone jurisdictions, which would end London's dominance in this sector.[229]

Higher education and academic research

According to a 2016 study by Ken Mayhew, Emeritus Professor of Education and Economic Performance at Oxford University, Brexit poses the following threats to higher education: "loss of research funding from EU sources; loss of students from other EU countries; the impact on the ability of the sector to hire academic staff from EU countries; and the impact on the ability of UK students to study abroad."[15]

The UK received more from the EU for research than it contributed[230] with universities getting just over 10% of their research income from the EU.[231] All funding for net beneficiaries from the EU, including universities, was guaranteed by the government in August 2016.[232] Before the funding announcement, a newspaper investigation reported that some research projects were reluctant to include British researchers due to uncertainties over funding.[233] Currently the UK is part of the European Research Area and the UK is likely to wish to remain an associated member.[234]

Scotland

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon addresses journalists over Brexit and Scotland's place within Europe at Bute House

As suggested by the Scottish Government before the referendum,[235] the First Minister of Scotland announced that officials were planning an independence referendum due to the result of Scotland voting to remain in the European Union when England and Wales voted to leave.[236] In March 2017, the SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon requested a second Scottish independence referendum in 2018 or 2019 (before Britain's formal exit from the EU).[237] The UK Prime Minister immediately rejected the requested timing, but not the referendum itself.[238] The referendum was approved by the Scottish Parliament on 28 March 2017. Sturgeon called for a "phased return" of an independent Scotland back to the EU.[239]

After the referendum, First Minister Sturgeon suggested that Scotland might refuse consent for legislation required to leave the EU,[240] though some lawyers argue that Scotland cannot block Brexit.[241]

On 21 March 2018, the Scottish Parliament passed the Scottish Continuity Bill.[242] This was passed due to stalling negotiations between the Scottish Government and the British Government on where powers within devolved policy areas should lie after exit day from the European Union. This Act allows for all devolved policy areas to remain within the remit of the Scottish Parliament and reduces the executive power upon exit day that the UK Withdrawal Bill provides for Ministers of the Crown.[243] The Bill gained Royal Assent on 28 April 2018.[242]

Impact of Brexit on bilateral UK relations

International agreements

The Financial Times said that there were approximately 759 international agreements, spanning 168 non-EU countries, that the UK would no longer be a party to upon leaving the EU.[244] This figure does not include World Trade Organisation or United Nations opt-in accords, and excludes "narrow agreements", which may also have to be renegotiated.[244]

Aviation may be heavily affected. The EU has rules allowing its airlines to fly anywhere in the union, also domestic, which will not apply to the UK anymore. The British airline EasyJet decided to relocate its headquarter. The EU also has treaties with many countries regulating the right to fly over, take off and land there. Unless permission or new treaties with the UK are made, aviation to and from the UK may stop.[245] Also trains in the Channel Tunnel and the Belfast–Dublin line might be stopped.[246]

The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic is written by the UN, not the EU, allowing road traffic between the UK and EU even without a deal. Ferries will continue, but with obstacles such as customs checks.[247] New ferry departures between Ireland and the continent will emerge.[247]

Options for continuing relationship with the EU

The UK's post-Brexit relationship with the remaining EU members could take several forms. A research paper presented to the UK Parliament in July 2013 proposed a number of alternatives to membership which would continue to allow access to the EU internal market. These include remaining in the European Economic Area,[248] negotiating deep bilateral agreements on the Swiss model,[248] or exit from the EU without EEA membership or a trade agreement under the WTO Option. There may be an interim deal between the time the UK leaves the EU and when the final relationship comes in force.

Border with Republic of Ireland

The UK/Republic of Ireland border crosses this road at Killeen (near Newry), marked only by a speed limit in km/h. (Northern Ireland uses mph.)

There is concern about whether the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland becomes a "hard border" with customs and passport checks on the border,[249] and whether this could affect the Good Friday Agreement that was seen as instrumental in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.[250] [251][252] In order to forestall this the European Union proposed a "backstop agreement" within the Withdrawal Agreement that would put Northern Ireland under a range of EU rules in order to forestall the need for border checks. This has been opposed by the British government.[253]

Until March 2019, both the UK and the Republic of Ireland will be members of the EU, and therefore both are in the Customs Union and the Single Market. There is freedom of movement for all EU nationals within the Common Travel Area and there are no customs or fixed immigration controls at the border. Since 2005, the border has been essentially invisible.[254] Following Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will become a land border between the EU and a non-EU state which may entail checks on goods at the border, depending on the co-operation and alignment of regulations between the two sides. It is therefore possible that the border will return to being a "hard" one, with fewer, controlled, crossing posts and a customs infrastructure. Both the EU and the UK have agreed this should be avoided.[255]

Border with France

The President of the Regional Council of Hauts-de-France, Xavier Bertrand, stated in February 2016 that "If Britain leaves Europe, right away the border will leave Calais and go to Dover. We will not continue to guard the border for Britain if it's no longer in the European Union," indicating that the juxtaposed controls would end with a leave vote. French Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron also suggested the agreement would be "threatened" by a leave vote.[256] These claims have been disputed, as the Le Touquet 2003 treaty enabling juxtaposed controls was not an EU treaty, and would not be legally void upon leaving.[257]

After the Brexit vote, Xavier Bertrand asked François Hollande to renegotiate the Touquet agreement,[258] which can be terminated by either party with two years' notice.[259] Hollande rejected the suggestion, and said: "Calling into question the Touquet deal on the pretext that Britain has voted for Brexit and will have to start negotiations to leave the Union doesn't make sense." Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister, confirmed there would be "no changes to the accord". He said: "The border at Calais is closed and will remain so."[260]

Gibraltar and Spain

Cars crossing into Gibraltar clearing customs formalities. Gibraltar is outside the customs union, VAT area and Schengen Zone.

Gibraltar is outside the European Union's common customs area and common commercial policy and so has a customs border with Spain. Nevertheless, the territory remains within the European Union until Brexit is complete.

During the campaign leading up to the referendum[261] the Chief Minister of Gibraltar warned that Brexit posed a threat to Gibraltar's safety.[262] Gibraltar overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU. After the result Spain's Foreign Minister renewed calls for joint Spanish–British control of the peninsula.[263] These calls were strongly rebuffed by Gibraltar's Chief Minister[264] and questions were raised over the future of free-flowing traffic at the Gibraltar–Spain border.[265] The UK government states it will only negotiate on the sovereignty of Gibraltar with the consent of its people.[266]

In February 2018, Sir Joe Bossano, Gibraltar's Minister for Enterprise, Training, Employment and Health and Safety (and former Chief Minister) expressed frustration at the EU's attitude, suggesting that Spain was being offered a veto, adding "It's enough to convert me from a supporter of the European Union into a Brexiteer".[267]

In April 2018, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis announced that Spain hopes to sign off on a bilateral agreement with Britain over Gibraltar before October so as not to hinder a Brexit transition deal. Talks between London and Madrid had progressed well. While reiterating the Spanish long-term aim of "recovering" Gibraltar, he said that Spain would not hold Gibraltar as a "hostage" to the EU negotiations.[268]

Relations with CANZUK countries

Brexit has also created a resurgence in academic and political advocacy for negotiating trade and migration agreements with the "CANZUK" countries – those of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.[269] This has been echoed by multiple politicians in the four countries, including the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson.[270] However, numerous academics have criticised this alternative for EU membership as "post-imperial nostalgia".[271][272]

Consequences of withdrawal for the EU

Structure and budget

Shortly after the referendum, the German parliament published an analysis on the consequences of a Brexit on the EU and specifically on the economic and political situation of Germany.[273] According to this, Britain is, after the United States and France, the third-most important export market for German products. In total Germany exports goods and services to Britain worth about 120 billion annually, which is about 8% of German exports, with Germany achieving a trade surplus with Britain worth €36.3 billion (2014). Should there be a "hard Brexit", exports would be subject to WTO customs and tariffs. The trade weighted average tariff is 2.4%, but the tariff on automobiles, for instance, is 9.7%, so trade in automobiles would be particularly affected; this would also affect German automobile manufacturers with production plants in the United Kingdom. In total, 750,000 jobs in Germany depend upon export to Britain, while on the British side about three million jobs depend on export to the EU. The study emphasises however that the predictions on the economic effects of a Brexit are subject to significant uncertainty.

According to the Lisbon Treaty (2009), Council of the EU decisions made by qualified majority voting can only be blocked if at least four members of the Council form a blocking minority. This rule was originally developed to prevent the three most populous members (Germany, France, Britain) from dominating the Council of the EU.[274] However, after a Brexit of the economically liberal British, the Germans and like-minded northern European countries (the Irish, Dutch, Scandinavians and Baltic states) would lose an ally and therefore also their blocking minority.[275] Without this blocking minority, other EU states could overrule Germany and its allies in questions of EU budget discipline or the recruitment of German banks to guarantee deposits in troubled southern European banks.[276]

With Brexit, the EU would lose its second-largest economy, the country with the third-largest population and "the financial capital of the world", as the German newspaper Münchner Merkur put it.[277] Furthermore, the EU would lose its second-largest net contributor to the EU budget (2015: Germany €14.3 billion, United Kingdom €11.5 billion, France €5.5 billion).[278]

Thus, the departure of Britain would result in an additional financial burden for the remaining net contributors, unless the budget is reduced accordingly: Germany, for example, would have to pay an additional €4.5 billion for 2019 and again for 2020; in addition, the UK would no longer be a shareholder in the European Investment Bank, in which only EU members can participate. Britain's share amounts to 16%, €39.2 billion (2013), which Britain would withdraw unless there is an EU treaty change.[279]

Council of the European Union

The departure of the UK is expected to have a major effect on the EU. In many policy votes Britain had allied with the relatively more economically liberal Germany who together with other northern EU allies had a blocking minority of 35% in the Council of the European Union. The exit of the UK from the European Union means that this blocking minority can no longer be assembled leading to speculation that it could enable the other EU countries to enforce specific proposals such as relaxing EU budget discipline or providing EU-wide deposit guarantees within the banking union.[280][276]

European Parliament

UK MEPs are expected to retain full rights to participate in the European Parliament up to the Article 50 deadline. However, there have been discussions about excluding UK MEPs from key committee positions.[281]

The EU will need to decide on the revised apportionment of seats in the European Parliament in time for the next European Parliament election, expected to be held in June 2019, when the United Kingdom's 73 MEPs will have vacated their seats. In April 2017, a group of European lawmakers discussed what should be done about the vacated seats. One plan, supported by Gianni Pittella and Emmanuel Macron, is to replace the 73 seats with a pan-European constituency list; other options which were considered include dropping the British seats without replacement, and reassigning some or all of the existing seats from other countries to reduce inequality of representation.[282][283]

Legal system

The UK's exit from the European Union will leave Ireland and Cyprus as the only two remaining common law jurisdictions in the EU. Paul Gallagher, a former Attorney General of Ireland, has suggested this will isolate those countries and deprive them of a powerful partner that shared a common interest in ensuring that EU legislation was not drafted or interpreted in a way that would be contrary to the principles of the common law.[284] Lucinda Creighton, a former Irish government minister for legal affairs, has said that Ireland relies on the "bureaucratic capacity of the UK" to understand, influence and implement EU legislation.[285]

Fishing

The combined EU fishing fleets land about 6 million tonnes of fish per year,[286] of which about 3 million tonnes are from UK waters.[287] The UK's share of the overall EU fishing catch is only 750,000 tonnes (830,000 tons).[288] This proportion is determined by the London Fisheries Convention of 1964 and by the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. The UK government announced in July 2017 that it would end the 1964 convention in 2019. Loss of access to UK waters will particularly affect the Irish fishing industry which obtains a third of its catch there.[289] The Common Fisheries Policy gives access for any member country to the waters of any other member country. The policy is generally considered a disadvantage to fish-rich countries and is a major reason why Norway and Iceland are not members.

World Trade Organization

Questions have arisen over how existing international arrangements with the EU under World Trade Organization (WTO) terms should evolve. Some countries – such as Australia and the United States – wish to challenge the basis for division (i.e., division between the UK and the continuing EU) of the trade schedules previously agreed between them and the EU, because it reduces their flexibility.[290]

As of 2018, the WTO does not have any protocols covering trade in services.

Public opinion and comment

Public comment up to February 2017 UK white paper

Various EU leaders said that they would not start any negotiation before the UK formally invokes Article 50. Jean-Claude Juncker ordered all members of the EU Commission not to engage in any kind of contact with UK parties regarding Brexit.[291] In October 2016, he stated that he was agitated that the British had not developed a sense of community with Europeans during 40 years of membership; Juncker denied that Brexit was a warning for the EU, envisaged developing an EU defence policy without the British after Brexit, and rejected a suggestion that the EU should negotiate in such a way that Britain would be able to hold a second referendum.[292] On 5 November 2016, Juncker reacted to reports of some European businesses seeking to make agreements with the UK government, and warned: "I am telling them [companies] that they should not interfere in the debate, as they will find that I will block their path."[293] Juncker stated in February 2017 that the UK would be expected to pay outstanding commitments to EU projects and pensions as part of the withdrawal process, suggesting such bills would be "very hefty."[294]

German foreign secretary Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson on 4 November 2016; Johnson stressed the importance of British-German relationships, whereas Steinmeier responded that the German view was that the UK should have voted to stay in the EU and that the German priority now was to preserve the remaining union of 27 members. There could be no negotiations before the UK formally gives notice. A long delay before beginning negotiations would be detrimental. Britain could not keep the advantages of the single market but at the same time cancel the "less pleasant rules".[295]

Newly appointed prime minister Theresa May made clear that negotiations with the EU required a "UK-wide approach". On 15 July 2016, she said: "I have already said that I won't be triggering article 50 until I think that we have a UK approach and objectives for negotiations – I think it is important that we establish that before we trigger article 50."[296]

According to The Daily Telegraph, the Department for Exiting the European Union spent over £250,000 on legal advice from top Government lawyers in two months, and had plans to recruit more people. Nick Clegg said the figures showed the Civil Service was unprepared for the very complex negotiations ahead.[297]

In the wake of the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union, the Department for International Trade (DIT) for striking and extending trade agreements between the UK and non-EU states was created by Prime Minister Theresa May, shortly after she took office on 13 July 2016.[298] It employs about 200 trade negotiators[299] and is overseen by the Secretary of State for International Trade, currently Liam Fox.

On 17 January 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May, announced a series of 12 negotiating objectives in a speech at Lancaster House. These consist of an end to European Court of Justice jurisdiction, withdrawal from the single market with a "comprehensive free-trade agreement" replacing this, a new customs agreement excluding the common external tariff and the EU's common commercial policy, an end to free movement of people, co-operation in crime and terrorism, collaboration in areas of science and technology, engagement with devolved administrations, maintaining the Common Travel Area with Ireland, and preserving existing workers' rights. She also confirmed, "that the Government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a [meaningful] vote in both Houses of Parliament, before it comes into force."[300]

The Government has stated its intention to "secure the specific interests of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as those of all parts of England". Through the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations (JMC(EN)), the Government intends to involve the views of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly in the process of negotiating the UK's exit from the EU. For instance, at the January 2017 meeting of the JMC(EN), the Scottish Government's proposal to remain in the European Economic Area was considered.[301]

Public comment pre- and post-Article 50 notification

EU negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament's chief negotiator, said that: "All British citizens today have also EU citizenship. That means a number of things: the possibility to participate in the European elections, the freedom of travel without problem inside the union. We need to have an arrangement in which this arrangement can continue for those citizens who on an individual basis are requesting it." The suggestion being an “associate citizenship”.[302]

An EU meeting to discuss Brexit was called for 29 April 2017, Donald Tusk stating that the "priority would be giving "clarity" to EU residents, business and member states about the talks ahead". Barnier called for talks to be completed by October 2018 to give time for any agreement to be ratified before the UK leaves in March 2019.[303]

Sinn Féin called for a referendum to create a united Ireland, following the Northern Ireland majority decision (56% to 44%) to vote no to Brexit and 2 March election to the Northern Ireland Assembly wherein Sinn Féin increased its number of seats.[304]

In early May, Jean-Claude Juncker said that the UK leaving the EU was a "tragedy" and that it is partly the responsibility of the EU. "The EU, in many respects has done too much, especially the Commission", including "too much regulation and too many interferences in the lives of our fellow citizens". The European Commission has, following the "Better regulation" initiative, in place since before Brexit, reduced the number of legislative proposals from 130 to 23 per year.[305][306]

Post-referendum opinion polling

Right / Wrong

Following the EU referendum, there have been many opinion polls on the question of whether the UK was "right" or "wrong" to vote to leave the EU. The results of these polls are shown in the table below.

Date(s) conducted Right Wrong Undecided Lead Sample Conducted by Polling type Notes
8-9 Oct 2018 40% 47% 13% 7% 1,647 YouGov Online
3-4 Oct 2018 42% 46% 12% 4% 1,746 YouGov Online
30 Sep-1 Oct 2018 42% 47% 11% 5% 1,607 YouGov Online
21-22 Sep 2018 42% 46% 12% 4% 1,643 YouGov Online
18-19 Sep 2018 40% 47% 12% 7% 2,509 YouGov Online
4-5 Sep 2018 43% 46% 11% 3% 1,628 YouGov Online
3-4 Sep 2018 42% 48% 11% 6% 1,883 YouGov Online
28-29 Aug 2018 42% 47% 11% 5% 1,664 YouGov Online
20-21 Aug 2018 41% 47% 12% 6% 1,697 YouGov Online
13-14 Aug 2018 43% 45% 12% 2% 1,660 YouGov Online
8-9 Aug 2018 42% 45% 13% 3% 1,675 YouGov Online
22-23 Jul 2018 42% 46% 12% 4% 1,650 YouGov Online
16-17 Jul 2018 42% 47% 12% 5% 1,657 YouGov Online
10-11 Jul 2018 41% 46% 12% 5% 1,732 YouGov Online
8-9 Jul 2018 Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resign.[307]
8-9 Jul 2018 42% 46% 12% 4% 1,669 YouGov Online
5-8 Jul 2018 76% 21% 2% 55% 966 YouGov Online Conservative Party members
6 Jul 2018 The UK Cabinet agrees the Chequers Statement, setting out a proposal on the future UK-EU relationship.[308]
3-4 Jul 2018 41% 46% 13% 5% 1,641 YouGov Online
25-26 Jun 2018 43% 46% 11% 3% 1,645 YouGov Online
19-20 Jun 2018 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,663 YouGov Online
18-19 Jun 2018 43% 44% 13% 1% 1,606 YouGov Online
11-12 Jun 2018 43% 46% 12% 3% 1,638 YouGov Online
4-5 Jun 2018 44% 44% 13% 0% 1,619 YouGov Online
28-29 May 2018 40% 47% 13% 7% 1,670 YouGov Online
20-21 May 2018 43% 44% 13% 1% 1,660 YouGov Online
13-14 May 2018 44% 45% 12% 1% 1,634 YouGov Online
8-9 May 2018 43% 45% 12% 2% 1,648 YouGov Online
30 Apr-1 May 2018 42% 47% 11% 5% 1,585 YouGov Online
24-25 Apr 2018 42% 45% 13% 3% 1,668 YouGov Online
16-17 Apr 2018 42% 45% 13% 3% 1,631 YouGov Online
9-10 Apr 2018 42% 46% 12% 4% 1,639 YouGov Online
26-27 Mar 2018 42% 45% 13% 3% 1,659 YouGov Online
5-6 Mar 2018 43% 45% 12% 2% 1,641 YouGov Online
2 Mar 2018 Theresa May makes Mansion House speech, outlining the UK Government's policy on the future UK-EU relationship.[309]
26-27 Feb 2018 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,622 YouGov Online
19-20 Feb 2018 42% 45% 12% 3% 1,650 YouGov Online
12-13 Feb 2018 42% 46% 12% 4% 1,639 YouGov Online
5-6 Feb 2018 43% 44% 13% 1% 2,000 YouGov Online
28-29 Jan 2018 40% 46% 14% 6% 1,669 YouGov Online
16-17 Jan 2018 45% 44% 12% 1% 1,672 YouGov Online
7-8 Jan 2018 42% 46% 12% 4% 1,663 YouGov Online
19-20 Dec 2017 42% 45% 12% 3% 1,610 YouGov Online
15 Dec 2017 The European Council decides to proceed to the second phase of the Brexit negotiations.[310]
10-11 Dec 2017 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,680 YouGov Online
4-5 Dec 2017 42% 45% 13% 3% 1,638 YouGov Online
7-8 Nov 2017 42% 46% 12% 4% 2,012 YouGov Online
23-24 Oct 2017 43% 45% 12% 2% 1,637 YouGov Online
18-19 Oct 2017 42% 45% 14% 3% 1,648 YouGov Online
10-11 Oct 2017 42% 47% 11% 5% 1,680 YouGov Online
22-24 Sep 2017 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,716 YouGov Online
22 Sep 2017 Theresa May makes Florence speech, in an attempt to 'unblock' the Brexit negotiations.[311]
30-31 Aug 2017 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,658 YouGov Online
21-22 Aug 2017 43% 45% 11% 2% 1,664 YouGov Online
31 Jul-1 Aug 2017 45% 45% 10% 0% 1,665 YouGov Online
18-19 Jul 2017 43% 43% 14% 0% 1,593 YouGov Online
10-11 Jul 2017 45% 43% 12% 2% 1,700 YouGov Online
21-22 Jun 2017 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,670 YouGov Online
19 Jun 2017 Brexit negotiations begin.[312]
12-13 Jun 2017 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,651 YouGov Online
8 Jun 2017 United Kingdom general election, 2017
5-7 Jun 2017 45% 45% 10% 0% 2,130 YouGov Online
30-31 May 2017 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,875 YouGov Online
24-25 May 2017 46% 43% 11% 3% 2,052 YouGov Online
16-17 May 2017 46% 43% 11% 3% 1,861 YouGov Online
3-14 May 2017 45% 41% 14% 4% 1,952 GfK Online
9-10 May 2017 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,651 YouGov Online
2-3 May 2017 46% 43% 11% 3% 2,066 YouGov Online
25-26 Apr 2017 43% 45% 12% 2% 1,590 YouGov Online
20-21 Apr 2017 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,590 YouGov Online
18-19 Apr 2017 46% 43% 11% 3% 1,727 YouGov Online
12-13 Apr 2017 45% 43% 12% 2% 2,069 YouGov Online
5-6 Apr 2017 46% 42% 11% 4% 1,651 YouGov Online
29 Mar 2017 The United Kingdom invokes Article 50.[313]
26-27 Mar 2017 44% 43% 13% 1% 1,957 YouGov Online
20-21 Mar 2017 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,627 YouGov Online
1-15 Mar 2017 46% 41% 13% 5% 1,938 GfK Online
13-14 Mar 2017 44% 42% 15% 2% 1,631 YouGov Online
10-14 Mar 2017 49% 41% 10% 8% 2,003 Opinium Online
27-28 Feb 2017 45% 44% 11% 1% 1,666 YouGov Online
21-22 Feb 2017 45% 45% 10% 0% 2,060 YouGov Online
12-13 Feb 2017 46% 42% 12% 4% 2,052 YouGov Online
30-31 Jan 2017 45% 42% 12% 3% 1,705 YouGov Online
17-18 Jan 2017 46% 42% 12% 4% 1,654 YouGov Online
17 Jan 2017 Theresa May makes Lancaster House speech, setting out the UK Government's negotiating priorities.[314]
9-12 Jan 2017 52% 39% 9% 13% 2,005 Opinium Online
9-10 Jan 2017 46% 42% 12% 4% 1,660 YouGov Online
3-4 Jan 2017 45% 44% 11% 1% 1,740 YouGov Online
18-19 Dec 2016 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,595 YouGov Online
4-5 Dec 2016 44% 42% 14% 2% 1,667 YouGov Online
28-29 Nov 2016 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,624 YouGov Online
14-15 Nov 2016 46% 43% 11% 3% 1,717 YouGov Online
19-20 Oct 2016 45% 44% 11% 1% 1,608 YouGov Online
11-12 Oct 2016 45% 44% 11% 1% 1,669 YouGov Online
2 Oct 2016 Theresa May makes Conservative Party Conference speech, announcing her intention to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017.[315]
13-14 Sep 2016 46% 44% 10% 2% 1,732 YouGov Online
30-31 Aug 2016 47% 44% 9% 3% 1,687 YouGov Online
22-23 Aug 2016 45% 43% 12% 2% 1,660 YouGov Online
16-17 Aug 2016 46% 43% 11% 3% 1,677 YouGov Online
8-9 Aug 2016 45% 44% 12% 1% 1,692 YouGov Online
1-2 Aug 2016 46% 42% 12% 4% 1,722 YouGov Online
13 Jul 2016 Theresa May becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[316]


Second referendum: Remain / Leave

There have also been opinion polls on how people would vote in a second referendum on the same question. The results of these polls are shown in the table below.

Date(s) conducted Remain Leave Neither Lead Sample Conducted by Polling type Notes
3-6 Oct 2018 90% 7% 2% 83% 665 YouGov Online SNP members; unweighted
08-26 Sep 2018 51% 34% 15% 17% 841 Kantar public Face to face
13-18 Sep 2018 90% 7% 3% 83% 1,054 YouGov Online Labour Party members


6-11 Sep 2018 63% 18% 19% 45% 1,645 YouGov Online 18-24 age group
69% 13% 18% 56% 480 Respondents of voting age only since 2016's referendum
6-10 Sep 2018 42% 35% 23% 7% 1,119 Kantar Online
7-9 Sep 2018 46% 42% 11% 4% 2,051 ICM Online
7 Sep 2018 47% 46% 8% 1% 854 Survation Online Likely voters
46% 44% 10% 2% 975 Possible voters
30 Aug-5 Sep 2018 55% 37% 8% 18% 620 YouGov Online GMB members
30 Aug-5 Sep 2018 68% 27% 6% 41% 1,081 YouGov Online UNISON members
30 Aug-5 Sep 2018 61% 35% 4% 26% 1,058 YouGov Online Unite the Union members
28 Aug-4 Sep 2018 46% 42% 12% 4% 10,215 YouGov Online
31 Jul-4 Sep 2018 46% 41% 13% 5% 25,641 YouGov Online
31 Jul-3 Sep 2018 58% 30% 11% 28% 3,051 YouGov Online London only
31 Aug-1 Sep 2018 47% 47% 6% 0% 1,017 Survation Online Likely voters
14-20 Aug 2018 46% 41% 13% 5% 10,299 YouGov Online
31 Jul-20 Aug 2018 46% 40% 13% 6% 18,772 YouGov Online
31 Jul-20 Aug 2018 42% 42% 16% 0% 807 YouGov Online North East England only
31 Jul-19 Aug 2018 44% 42% 14% 2% 939 YouGov Online Wales only
8-14 Aug 2018 58% 30% 12% 28% 1,977 YouGov Online Scotland only
9-13 Aug 2018 40% 35% 25% 5% 1,119 Kantar Online
6-10 Aug 2018 50% 43% 7% 7% 1,316 BMG Research Online With squeeze responses. [note 1]
49% 41% 10% 8% Without squeeze responses. [note 1]
31 Jul-7 Aug 2018 46% 40% 14% 6% 10,121 YouGov Online
31 Jul-7 Aug 2018 46% 43% 11% 3% 930 YouGov Online South West England only
26-31 Jul 2018 46% 41% 13% 5% 4,957 YouGov Online
25-26 Jul 2018 45% 42% 13% 3% 1,631 YouGov Online
23-24 Jul 2018 47% 41% 12% 6% 1,627 YouGov Online
19-20 Jul 2018 44% 40% 16% 4% 1,668 YouGov Online
12-14 Jul 2018 45% 45% 11% 0% 1,484 Deltapoll Online
8-9 Jul 2018 Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resign.[317]
5-9 Jul 2018 40% 32% 28% 8% 1,086 Kantar Online
7 Jul 2018 49% 45% 5% 4% 1,007 Survation Online
6 Jul 2018 The UK Cabinet agrees the Chequers Statement, setting out a proposal on the future UK-EU relationship.[318]
3-5 Jul 2018 51% 45% 5% 6% 1,359 BMG Research Online With squeeze responses. [note 1]
49% 43% 8% 6% Without squeeze responses. [note 1]
28 Jun-2 Jul 2018 44% 39% 17% 5% 1,031 YouGov Online Wales only
26-27 Jun 2018 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,626 YouGov Online [note 1]
19-20 Jun 2018 50% 44% 6% 6% 1,022 Survation Online
10-11 Jun 2018 45% 40% 15% 5% 1,654 YouGov Online
5-8 Jun 2018 48% 45% 6% 3% 1,350 BMG Research Online With squeeze responses. [note 1]
46% 43% 10% 3% Without squeeze responses. [note 1]
31 May-4 Jun 2018 48% 47% 5% 1% 2,012 Survation Online
9-16 May 2018 47% 42% 11% 5% 2,006 Deltapoll Online
8-10 May 2018 47% 47% 6% 0% 1,585 Survation Online
1-4 May 2018 49% 44% 7% 5% 1,361 BMG Research Online With squeeze responses. [note 1]
47% 43% 11% 4% Without squeeze responses. [note 1]
25-30 Apr 2018 45% 42% 13% 3% 1,637 YouGov Online
14 Apr 2018 47% 46% 7% 1% 2,060 Survation Online
10-13 Apr 2018 51% 42% 6% 9% 1,432 BMG Research Online With squeeze responses. [note 1]
49% 40% 10% 9% Without squeeze responses. [note 1]
6-8 Apr 2018 45% 44% 11% 1% 2,012 ICM Online
5-6 Apr 2018 44% 41% 15% 3% 1,636 YouGov Online
13-16 Mar 2018 50% 44% 6% 6% 1,815 BMG Research Online With squeeze responses. [note 1]
49% 42% 9% 7% Without squeeze responses. [note 1]
12-15 Mar 2018 45% 44% 12% 1% 1,015 YouGov Online Wales only
7-8 Mar 2018 44% 49% 7% 5% 2,092 ORB Online Not weighted by 2016 vote
2 Mar 2018 43% 46% 12% 3% 1,096 ComRes Online Not weighted by 2016 vote
2 Mar 2018 Theresa May makes Mansion House speech, outlining the UK Government's policy on the future UK-EU relationship.[319]
27-28 Feb 2018 44% 41% 14% 3% 1,646 YouGov Online
14-16 Feb 2018 46% 42% 13% 4% 1,482 Sky Data Online
26-29 Jan 2018 49% 46% 6% 3% 1,059 Survation Online
18-22 Jan 2018 46% 42% 12% 4% 1,633 YouGov Online
16-19 Jan 2018 49% 41% 10% 8% 1,096 Sky Data Online
10-19 Jan 2018 45% 43% 12% 2% 5,075 ICM Online
11 Jan 2018 51% 43% 6% 8% 1,049 ComRes Online Not weighted by 2016 vote
15 Dec 2017 The European Council decides to proceed to the second phase of the Brexit negotiations.[320]
8-10 Dec 2017 46% 43% 11% 3% 2,006 ICM Online
5-8 Dec 2017 51% 41% 8% 10% 1,509 BMG Research Online [note 1]
30 Nov-1 Dec 2017 49% 46% 6% 3% 1,003 Survation Online
21-24 Nov 2017 45% 40% 15% 5% 1,016 YouGov Online Wales only
16-17 Nov 2017 43% 43% 14% 0% 1,672 YouGov Online
14-17 Nov 2017 45% 45% 10% 0% 1,509 BMG Research Online [note 1]
18-24 Oct 2017 44% 40% 16% 4% 1,648 YouGov Online
19-20 Oct 2017 46% 45% 9% 1% 1,005 Opinium Online
17-20 Oct 2017 47% 44% 8% 3% 1,506 BMG Research Online [note 1]
4-5 Oct 2017 49% 45% 6% 4% 2,047 Survation Online
23 Sep 2017 46% 47% 6% 1% 1,174 Survation Online
22 Sep 2017 Theresa May makes Florence speech, in an attempt to 'unblock' the Brexit negotiations.[321]
19-22 Sep 2017 45% 44% 12% 1% 2,004 Opinium Online
15-20 Sep 2017 47% 47% 5% 0% 1,614 Survation Online
12-15 Sep 2017 47% 43% 10% 4% 1,447 BMG Research Online
12-15 Sep 2017 45% 45% 10% 0% 2,009 Opinium Online
4-7 Sep 2017 46% 42% 12% 4% 1,011 YouGov Online Wales only
15-18 Aug 2017 47% 44% 9% 3% 2,006 Opinium Online
8-11 Aug 2017 46% 45% 9% 1% 1,512 BMG Research Online [note 1]
23-24 Jul 2017 46% 43% 11% 3% 1,609 YouGov Online
14-15 Jul 2017 47% 48% 5% 1% 1,024 Survation Online
11-14 Jul 2017 46% 45% 9% 1% 1,518 BMG Research Online [note 1]
28-30 Jun 2017 52% 44% 5% 8% 1,017 Survation Telephone
23-30 Jun 2017 46% 42% 13% 4% 1,661 YouGov Online
16-21 Jun 2017 46% 50% 4% 4% 5,481 Panelbase Online
19 Jun 2017 Brexit negotiations begin.[322]
16-17 Jun 2017 50% 48% 3% 2% 1,005 Survation Telephone Likely voters
10 Jun 2017 48% 46% 6% 2% 1,036 Survation Online
8 Jun 2017 United Kingdom general election, 2017
2-7 Jun 2017 46% 51% 3% 5% 3,018 Panelbase Online
2-5 Jun 2017 47% 44% 9% 3% 1,503 BMG Research Online [note 1]
26 May-1 Jun 2017 47% 49% 4% 2% 1,224 Panelbase Online
29-31 May 2017 42% 45% 13% 3% 1,014 YouGov Online Wales only
25-30 May 2017 35% 38% 27% 3% 1,199 Kantar TNS Online
19-22 May 2017 45% 45% 10% 0% 1,499 BMG Research Online [note 1]
18-21 May 2017 45% 43% 13% 2% 1,025 YouGov Online Wales only
12-15 May 2017 47% 50% 3% 3% 1,026 Panelbase Online
5-9 May 2017 47% 49% 4% 2% 1,027 Panelbase Online
5-7 May 2017 43% 44% 13% 1% 1,018 YouGov Online Wales only
28 Apr-2 May 2017 48% 49% 3% 1% 1,034 Panelbase Online Likely voters
21-24 Apr 2017 45% 45% 10% 0% 1,552 BMG Research Online [note 1]
20-24 Apr 2017 46% 50% 4% 4% 1,026 Panelbase Online Likely voters
19-21 Apr 2017 43% 43% 14% 0% 1,029 YouGov Online Wales only
28-31 Mar 2017 46% 46% 8% 0% 1,576 BMG Research Online [note 1]
23-30 Mar 2017 44% 43% 14% 1% 1,643 YouGov Online
29 Mar 2017 The United Kingdom invokes Article 50.[323]
21-24 Feb 2017 45% 46% 9% 1% 1,543 BMG Research Online [note 1]
19-24 Jan 2017 43% 44% 13% 1% 1,643 YouGov Online
17 Jan 2017 Theresa May makes Lancaster House speech, setting out the UK Government's negotiating priorities.[324]
6-9 Jan 2017 44% 45% 11% 1% 1,520 BMG Research Online [note 1]
14-21 Dec 2016 44% 43% 13% 1% 1,569 YouGov Online
6-9 Dec 2016 43% 46% 11% 3% 1,532 BMG Research Online [note 1]
25-27 Nov 2016 46% 47% 6% 1% 2,035 ComRes Online
22-25 Nov 2016 43% 43% 14% 0% 1,523 BMG Research Online [note 1]
20-25 Oct 2016 44% 43% 13% 1% 1,631 YouGov Online
19-24 Oct 2016 45% 43% 12% 2% 1,546 BMG Research Online [note 1]
10-12 Oct 2016 44% 44% 12% 0% 1,002 Survation Online
2 Oct 2016 Theresa May makes Conservative Party Conference speech, announcing her intention to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017.[325]
16-20 Sep 2016 42% 46% 11% 4% 1,601 YouGov Online
31 Aug-9 Sep 2016 43% 45% 13% 2% 1,711 YouGov Online
20-27 Jul 2016 43% 44% 13% 1% 1,673 YouGov Online
13 Jul 2016 Theresa May becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[326]
3-4 Jul 2016 45% 45% 10% 0% 1,820 YouGov Online
29-30 Jun 2016 45% 37% 19% 8% 1,017 BMG Research Online
28-30 Jun 2016 48% 42% 9% 6% 2,006 Opinium Online
23 Jun 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Question does not explicitly ask how respondents would vote in a referendum.


Three-option referendum

On 6 July 2018, the UK Cabinet agreed a statement at Chequers that set out a proposal for the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union,[327] following which two members of the Cabinet resigned.[328] On 16 July 2018 the former Education Secretary Justine Greening noted the lack of a political consensus behind the Chequers proposal and said that, due to a 'stalemate' in the House of Commons, the issue of Brexit should be referred back to the electorate. She proposed a referendum with three options: to leave the EU on such terms as might be agreed between the UK Government and the EU 27; to leave the EU without agreed terms; or to remain in the EU. Voters would be asked to mark a first and second preference using the supplementary vote system. If there were no majority for any particular option among first-preference votes, the third-placed option would be eliminated and second preferences would be used to determine the winner from the two remaining options.[329]

The following table shows opinion polls that have been conducted on how people would vote in such a three-option referendum. The table shows the poll results for a first round in which all three options would be available, and for a second round in which only the top two options in the first round would be available.

Date(s) conducted Round Remain Deal No Deal None Lead Sample Conducted by Polling type Notes
6-11 Sep 2018 I 58% 10% 9% 23% 48% 1,645 YouGov Online 18-24 age group
II 82% 18% 64%
31 Jul-7 Aug 2018 I 40% 11% 27% 22% 13% 10,121 YouGov Online
II 56% 44% 12%
20-23 Jul 2018 I 48% 13% 27% 11% 21% 1,466 Sky Data Online
II 59% 41% 18%
19-20 Jul 2018 I 41% 9% 31% 19% 10% 1,668 YouGov Online
II 54% 46% 8%
16-17 Jul 2018 I 42% 15% 28% 15% 14% 1,657 YouGov Online
II 55% 45% 10%
8-9 Jul 2018 Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resign.[330]
6 Jul 2018 The UK Cabinet agrees the Chequers Statement, setting out a proposal on the future UK-EU relationship.[331]
23 Jun 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016


Support for a second referendum

There have been opinion polls to gauge support for a second referendum on whether to accept or reject the final Brexit deal.

Date(s) conducted Support Oppose Neither Lead Sample Conducted by Polling type Notes
3-6 Oct 2018 83% 10% 6% 73% 665 YouGov Online SNP members; unweighted
25-26 Sep 2018 34% 50% 16% 16% 1,634 YouGov Online [note 1]
37% 48% 15% 11% [note 2]
21-22 Sep 2018 39% 43% 17% 4% 1,643 YouGov Online
18-19 Sep 2018 40% 43% 17% 3% 2,509 YouGov Online
13-18 Sep 2018 86% 8% 6% 78% 1,054 YouGov Online Labour Party members
6-11 Sep 2018 52% 22% 25% 30% 1,645 YouGov Online 18-24 age group
4-5 Sep 2018 40% 41% 18% 1% 1,628 YouGov Online
30 Aug-5 Sep 2018 56% 33% 10% 23% 620 YouGov Online GMB members
30 Aug-5 Sep 2018 66% 22% 11% 44% 1,081 YouGov Online UNISON members
30 Aug-5 Sep 2018 59% 33% 8% 26% 1,058 YouGov Online Unite the Union members
31 Jul-4 Sep 2018 45% 35% 21% 10% 25,641 YouGov Online
31 Jul-3 Sep 2018 52% 30% 19% 22% 3,051 YouGov Online London only
31 Aug-1 Sep 2018 40% 43% 17% 3% 1,600 YouGov Online
31 Jul-20 Aug 2018 45% 33% 22% 12% 18,772 YouGov Online
31 Jul-19 Aug 2018 44% 36% 21% 8% 939 YouGov Online Wales only
26-31 Jul 2018 43% 41% 17% 2% 4,957 YouGov Online
25-26 Jul 2018 42% 40% 18% 2% 1,631 YouGov Online
24 Jul 2018 The Independent launches its campaign for a second referendum.[332]
16-17 Jul 2018 40% 42% 18% 2% 1,657 YouGov Online
36% 47% 17% 11% Three-option referendum
10-11 Jul 2018 37% 41% 23% 4% 1,732 YouGov Online
8-9 Jul 2018 Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resign.[333]
5-8 Jul 2018 14% 82% 4% 68% 966 YouGov Online Conservative Party members
6 Jul 2018 The UK Cabinet agrees the Chequers Statement, setting out a proposal on the future UK-EU relationship.[334]
28 Jun-2 Jul 2018 40% 45% 15% 5% 1,031 YouGov Online Wales only
27-30 Jun 2018 57% 34% 9% 23% 902 YouGov Online Unite the Union members
13-14 May 2018 38% 46% 16% 8% 1,634 YouGov Online
12 May 2018 The National Union of Students calls for a referendum on the final deal.[335]
1-4 May 2018 53% 31% 16% 22% 2,005 Opinium
15 Apr 2018 People's Vote campaign launched.[336]
10-12 Apr 2018 52% 31% 17% 21% 2,008 Opinium Online
9-10 Apr 2018 38% 45% 17% 7% 1,639 YouGov Online
6-8 Apr 2018 47% 36% 17% 11% 2,012 ICM Online [note 2]
26-27 Mar 2018 36% 42% 22% 6% 1,659 YouGov Online
12-15 Mar 2018 39% 49% 12% 10% 1,015 YouGov Online Wales only
5-6 Mar 2018 36% 43% 20% 7% 1,641 YouGov Online
2 Mar 2018 Theresa May makes Mansion House speech, outlining the UK Government's policy on the future UK-EU relationship.[337]
10-19 Jan 2018 47% 34% 19% 13% 5,075 ICM Online [note 2]
9-10 Jan 2018 36% 43% 21% 7% 1,714 YouGov Online
15 Dec 2017 The European Council decides to proceed to the second phase of the Brexit negotiations.[338]
10-11 Dec 2017 33% 42% 24% 9% 1,680 YouGov Online
30 Nov-1 Dec 2017 50% 34% 16% 16% 1,003 Survation Online
21-24 Nov 2017 44% 43% 13% 1% 1,016 YouGov Online Wales only
23-24 Oct 2017 32% 46% 22% 14% 1,637 YouGov Online
22-24 Sep 2017 34% 46% 21% 12% 1,716 YouGov Online
22 Sep 2017 Theresa May makes Florence speech, in an attempt to 'unblock' the Brexit negotiations.[339]
12-13 Sep 2017 34% 47% 19% 13% 1,660 YouGov Online
4-7 Sep 2017 40% 48% 12% 8% 1,011 YouGov Online Wales only
14-15 Jul 2017 46% 39% 15% 7% 1,024 Survation Online
7-11 Jul 2017 41% 48% 12% 7% 2,005 Opinium [note 2]
28-30 Jun 2017 46% 48% 6% 2% 1,017 Survation Telephone
16-20 Jun 2017 38% 51% 11% 13% 2,005 Opinium [note 2]
19 Jun 2017 Brexit negotiations begin.[340]
16-17 Jun 2017 48% 43% 9% 5% 1,005 Survation Telephone
16-17 Jun 2017 38% 57% 4% 19% 1,005 Survation Telephone [note 2]
8 Jun 2017 United Kingdom general election, 2017
29-31 May 2017 33% 56% 11% 23% 1,025 YouGov Online Wales only
18-21 May 2017 37% 52% 11% 15% 1,025 YouGov Online Wales only
5-7 May 2017 37% 53% 10% 16% 1,018 YouGov Online Wales only
28 Apr-2 May 2017 36% 53% 11% 17% 2,003 Opinium [note 2]
27-28 Apr 2017 31% 49% 20% 18% 1,612 YouGov Online
20-21 Apr 2017 31% 48% 21% 17% 1,590 YouGov Online
19-21 Apr 2017 35% 53% 12% 18% 1,029 YouGov Online Wales only
29 Mar 2017 The United Kingdom invokes Article 50.[341]
17-21 Mar 2017 38% 52% 10% 14% 2,003 Opinium [note 2]
17 Jan 2017 Theresa May makes Lancaster House speech, setting out the UK Government's negotiating priorities.[342]
13-16 Dec 2016 33% 52% 15% 19% 2,000 Opinium [note 2]
2 Oct 2016 Theresa May makes Conservative Party Conference speech, announcing her intention to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017.[343]
13 Jul 2016 Theresa May becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[344]
29-30 Jun 2016 32% 60% 7% 28% 1,017 BMG Research Online [note 3]
23 Jun 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016
  1. ^ Referendum on whether to accept the negotiated terms or leave the EU without a deal.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Referendum on whether to accept the negotiated terms or remain in the EU.
  3. ^ Question asked about a second EU referendum, not necessarily on the final deal.


In July 2017, LSE/Opinium research indicated that 60% of Britons wanted to retain EU citizenship after Brexit.[345]

In September 2018 polls by YouGov and ICM Research both suggest Labour could make substantial gains by supporting a second referendum on Brexit.[346]

US position

Rex Tillerson, former United States Secretary of State, considers that the European Union and the United Kingdom should perform a fast Brexit to avoid useless disagreement.[347]

Cultural responses to the referendum vote

Brexit in the visual arts

Anti-Brexit protesters in Manchester
Düsseldorf carnival parade in February 2018

The response of artists and writers to Brexit has in general been negative, reflecting a reported overwhelming percentage of people involved in Britain's creative industries voting against leaving the European Union.[348]

Responses by visual artists to Brexit include a mural, painted in May 2017, by the secretive graffiti artist Banksy near the ferry port at Dover in southern England. It shows a workman using a chisel to chip off one of the stars on the European Union Flag.[349]

In his 2017 art exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London, the artist Grayson Perry showed a series of ceramic, tapestry and other works of art dealing with the divisions in Britain during the Brexit campaign and in its aftermath. This included two large ceramic pots, Perry called his Brexit Vases, standing on plinths ten feet apart, on the first of which were scenes involving pro-European British citizens, and on the second scenes involving anti-European British citizens. These were derived from what Perry called his "Brexit tour of Britain."[350]

Brexit in novels

In Daphne Du Maurier's 1972 novel Rule Britannia the UK is brought to the brink of bankruptcy after withdrawal from the EEC.[351]

One of the first novels to engage with a post-Brexit Britain was Rabbitman by Michael Paraskos (published 9 March 2017). Rabbitman is a dark comic fantasy in which the events that lead to the election of a right-wing populist American president, who happens also to be a rabbit, and Britain's vote to leave the European Union, were the result of a series of Faustian pacts with the Devil. As a result, Rabbitman is set partly in a post-Brexit Britain in which society has collapsed and people are dependent on European Union food aid.[352]

Mark Billingham’s Love Like Blood (published 1 June 2017) is a crime thriller in which Brexit sees a rise in xenophobic hate crime.[353] In the novel The Remains of the Way (published 6 June 2017), David Boyle imagines Brexit was a conspiracy led by a forgotten government quango, still working away in Whitehall, originally set up by Thomas Cromwell in the sixteenth century during the reign of King Henry VIII, and now dedicated to a Protestant Brexit.[354]

Post-Brexit Britain is also the setting for Amanda Craig's The Lie of the Land (published 13 June 2017), a satirical novel set ten years after the vote to leave the European Union, in which an impoverished middle class couple from Islington in north London are forced to move from the heart of the pro-European Union capital, to the heart of the pro-Brexit countryside in Devon.[355]

Brexit is also the baseline for Douglas Board’s comic political thriller Time of Lies (published 23 June 2017). In this novel, the first post-Brexit general election in 2020 is won by a violent right-wing former football hooligan called Bob Grant. Board charts the response to this of the hitherto pro-European Union metropolitan political elite.[356]

Stanley Johnson's Kompromat (scheduled for July 2017) is a political thriller that suggests the vote to leave the European Union was a result of Russian influence on the referendum, although Johnson has insisted his book is not intended to point the finger at Russia's secret services, but is "just meant to be fun."[357]

Brexit in theatre

In June 2017, the National Theatre in London presented a play by Carol Ann Duffy, entitled My Country; a work in progress. An allegorical work, the play uses the device of a convention called by the goddess Britannia, who is concerned about the future of the British people.[358] The play differs from some artistic responses in that Duffy and the National Theatre-based the attitudes of the characters in part on the responses of ordinary people in interviews that were conducted by the regional offices of the UK Arts Councils, but excluding responses from London and the south-east of England, where most people voted not to leave the EU. As a result, according to Dominic Cavendish, writing in The Daily Telegraph, "the bias is towards the Leave camp".[359]

Brexit in film

In 2016, the television director Martin Durkin wrote and directed an 81 minute long documentary film titled Brexit: The Movie, which advocated with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The film was produced by the production company Wag TV with a budget of £300,000.[360] The production costs were sourced primarily through crowdfunding via Kickstarter alongside a £50,000 contribution from the hedge fund Spitfire Capital. In May 2016 the film premiered in Leicester Square, with notable figures such as Nigel Farage and David Davis (who later became Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) in attendance.

A documentary film was released in 2018, called Postcards from the 48%, which is described on the film's website as: "A documentary film made by and featuring those who voted Remain, the 48%, to show the other 27 EU Member States that it was far from a landslide victory and just why we are fighting to stay part of the EU."[361] A review on Shadows on the Wall ("the UK's first film ezine"[362]) wrote: ″This is a comprehensive, factual exploration of the issue, grappling with the referendum, its ramifications and the way the split vote has fractured British society.″[363]

Establishment of pro-European political organisations

Following the Brexit vote, there have been several attempts to set up a new pro-European political party.[364][365] Examples include 'The Democrats' (a proposal by former Daily Mail political editor James Chapman), 'The Radicals' (proposed by Jeremy Cliffe, former Berlin bureau chief of The Economist) and the Renew Britain party.[365]

In 2017, newly elected Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable criticised 'pop up' anti-Brexit parties formed following the 2016 referendum, saying of those groups' policies "...it is the kind of ideology-free, technocratic, authoritarian centrism that would be more at home in, say, Singapore." and "Voters beware."[366]

See also

Notes

References

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