1. Trade Hub Knowledge Base
  2. A history of Brexit and the TCA

History of Brexit (2016-2020)

On 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum. This article provides a breakdown of some of the key dates and events which occurred following this referendum and before the UK’s departure in 2020.

29 March 2017:

In writing to European Council President Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister formally triggered Article 50 and began the two-year countdown to the UK formally leaving the EU (commonly known as 'Brexit'). Through this Article 50 process the UK had scheduled to leave the European Union at 11pm on 29 March 2019. Read the UK government announcement on activating Article 50 here: The United Kingdom triggers Article 50 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

14 March 2019:

Following a House of Commons vote on 14 March 2019, the Government sought permission from the EU to extend Article 50 and agree a later Brexit date. House of Commons votes to seek Article 50 extension - UK Parliament

20 March 2019:

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk, asking to extend Article 50 until 30 June 2019. Following a European Council meeting the next day, EU27 leaders agreed to grant an extension. Brexit: European Council adopts decision extending the period under Article 50 - Consilium (europa.eu)

2 April 2019:

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced she would seek a further extension to the Article 50 process and offered to meet the Leader of the Opposition to agree a deal that can win the support of MPs. At a meeting of the European Council on 10 April 2019, the UK and EU27 agreed to extend Article 50 until 31 October 2019. Prime Minister's statement after Article 50 extended to 31 October 2019 - UK Parliament

19 October 2019:

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal was lost on amendment in the Commons. In accordance with the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 – commonly known as the 'Benn Act' - the Prime Minister wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk, to request an extension to the Brexit process. Letter_from_UK_to_EU_Council.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)

28 October 2019:

EU Ambassadors agreed a further Brexit extension to 31 January 2020. Brexit: European Council adopts decision to extend the period under Article 50 - Consilium (europa.eu)

12 December 2019:

Boris Johnson won a majority in the UK General Election and reaffirmed his commitment to 'get Brexit done' by 31 January 2020. General Election 2019: full results and analysis - House of Commons Library (parliament.uk)

23rd January 2020:

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 received Royal Assent. This is the legislation that will implement the withdrawal agreement negotiated by the UK and the EU. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill receives Royal Assent - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

31st January 2020:

The UK left the EU and entered a transition period. During this time the UK would no longer be a member of the EU but would continue to abide by all EU regulations as the terms of the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU were agreed. The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement (europa.eu)

31st December 2020:

At 11pm on 31st December 2020 the transition period ended, and the United Kingdom left the EU single market and customs union. The following link provides more information about the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU: Summary: The UK’s new relationship with the EU - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

31st December 2020:

A key part of the new Withdrawal Agreement the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland takes effect. Microsoft Word - Northern Ireland Protocol - Command Paper.docx (publishing.service.gov.uk). On the 27th of February 2023 the UK and the EU announced the agreement of the Windsor Framework. This framework sets out changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol. These changes will be phased in between 2023 and 2025. More detail on these changes and when they will be introduced can be found here: https://crossbordertradehub.intertradeireland.com/key-dates-2023-2025