Brexit – Key Developments

23 June 2016 EU Referendum held on June 23 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union (EU). The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with over 30 million people voting.  Across the UK as a whole, leave won by 51.9% to 48.1% voting to remain.  In Wales, the leave vote was 52.5%.   See the results in more detail here.
24 June 2016 Carwyn Jones, First Minister makes a written statement on the EU Referendum result.
13 July 2016 Teresa May became Prime Minister and David Davis MP is appointed as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
15 July 2016 First Minister Carwyn Jones announces the formation of a new European Advisory Group to advise Welsh Government on the impact of leaving the EU on Wales.
13 September 2016 Carwyn Jones, First Minister makes an Oral Statement on EU Transition
October 2016 High Court hears Article 50 judicial review case.
4 October 2016 The UK Treasury gives an assurance that all structural fund and investment fund projects signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when they continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. The Treasury will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding for specific projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while we remain a member of the EU. For details see
24 October 2016 Carwyn Jones, First Minister makes an Oral Statement on: Update on Brexit Negotiations.
4 November 2016 High Court decision made that rules that Government cannot trigger Article 50 without being authorised by Parliament.
8 December 2016 The Government’s appeal against the High Court decision is heard by the Supreme Court.
24 January 2017 The Supreme Court rules that Government cannot trigger Article 50 without an Act of Parliament but does not have to consult the devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Welsh Government releases a statement on the judgement.

23 January 2017 Securing Wales’ Future paper published, setting out the main concerns of the Welsh Government as the UK moves towards leaving the EU. The paper sets out 6 key areas:

  • The importance of continued participation in the Single Market to support businesses, and secure jobs and the future prosperity of Wales
  • A balanced approach to immigration linking migration to jobs and good properly-enforced employment practice which protects all workers whatever their country of origin
  • On finance and investment, the need for the UK Government to make good on promises made during the referendum campaign that Wales would not lose funding as a result of the UK leaving the EU
  • A fundamentally different constitutional relationship between the devolved governments and the UK Government – based on mutual respect, reaching agreement through consent
  • Maintaining the social and environmental protections and values that we prize in Wales, in particular workers’ rights, once these are no longer guaranteed through the UK’s membership of the EU.

Proper consideration of transitional arrangements to ensure the UK does not fall off a cliff edge in its economic and wider relationship with the EU if longer-term arrangements have not been agreed at the point of exit.

1 February 2017 The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill is passed in the House of Commons.
2 February 2017 The Government publishes its white paper on the UK’s exit from and new partnership with the EU, formally setting out its strategy for leaving the EU.
16 March 2017 European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill passed by Parliament, giving the Government authority to give notice to the EU under Article 50.
29 March 2017 Article 50 triggered by the Prime Minister.

Article 50 was created as part of the Treaty of Lisbon and is a plan for any country that wishes to exit the EU.

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has five elements:

  1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
  2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
  3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
  4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
30 March 2017 Great Repeal Bill white paper is published.
31 March 2017 EU draft negotiation guidelines for the EU27 published by the President of the European Council.
May to July 2017 The EU publishes nine position papers setting out its position in relation to the Brexit negotiations, covering:

  • goods placed on the market under Union law before the withdrawal date;
  • nuclear materials and safeguard equipment (Euratom);
  • ongoing police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • governance;
  • judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters;
  • ongoing Union judicial and administrative procedures;
  • issues relating to the functioning of the Union institutions, agencies and bodies;
  • essential principles on citizens’ rights;
  • essential principles on the financial settlement.
8 June 2017 UK General Election.  Teresa May elected as Prime Minister.
19 June 2017 Brexit Negotiations Talks begin between the UK and the EC.
21 June 2017 Queens speech at the State Opening of Parliament includes a ‘Great Repeal Bill in the Government’s legislative programme.
26 June 2017 UK Government sets out how it intends to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
13 July 2017 The Government publishes the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. It will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on the day the UK leaves the EU, transfer EU law into UK law, and give the Government two years to correct any deficiencies arising from the transfer.
13 July 2017 The UK publishes three position papers, setting out its position in relation to the Brexit negotiations. They cover:

In each case, the Government’s position is that the UK will cease to be subject to ECJ jurisdiction and will sever relations with EU institutions.

13 July 2017 Michel Barnier, the EU Commission’s chief negotiator, holds meetings with Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the Labour Party), Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister of Scotland) and Carwyn Jones (First Minister of Wales).
14 July 2017 The second round of EU negotiations begins.
20 July 2017 David Davis makes a statement at the end of the second round of EU exit negotiations.
7 August 2017 UK Government publishes Data Protection Bill statement of intent, which will repeal the Data Protection Act 1998 and incorporate the EU General Data Protection Regulation into UK law.
15 August 2017 The UK Government publishes proposals for a future customs relationship with the EU.
21 August 2017 The UK Government publishes a position paper outlining the UK’s position on continuity in the availability of goods in EU and UK markets at the point of EU exit.
22 August 2017 The UK Government publishes paper outlining the United Kingdom’s position on cross-border civil judicial cooperation in a future partnership.
23 August 2017 The UK Government publishes a future partnership paper discussing options for enforcement and dispute resolution mechanisms for UK-EU agreements.
24 August 2017 The UK Government publishes a future partnership paper discussing options for the exchange and protection of personal data in the future partnership.
28 August 2017 The third round of EU negotiations begins.
6 September 2017 The UK Government publishes a future partnership paper outlining the UK’s objectives for a science and innovation agreement with the EU.
7 and 11 September 2017 The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has its second reading in the House of Commons, and is debated by MP’s.
12 September 2017 The UK Government publishes a future partnership paper discussing options for foreign policy, defence and development collaboration in the future partnership.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill wins first House of Commons vote.

18 September 2017 The UK Government publishes a paper discussing options for maintaining security, law enforcement and criminal justice – a future partnership paper.
22 September 2017 PM Theresa May makes a speech in Florence outlining plans for a possible two year transition period after Brexit and to plug the gap in the EU’s budget caused by the UK’s departure from the EU.
25 September 2017 The fourth round of EU negotiations begins.
28 September 2017 David Davis gives a statement.

The Government publishes the latest technical note on the comparison of EU-UK positions on citizens’ rights.

9 October 2017 The fifth round of EU negotiations begins.

The UK Government publishes policy papers on trade and customs.

10 October 2017 The Chair of the Welsh Government External Affairs Committee wrote to Welsh MPs with six objectives for changing the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill:

  1. Remove the Clause 11 restriction on the devolution settlement.
  2. Ensure the Welsh Ministers and the Assembly are responsible for correcting all aspects of EU-derived law in areas of devolved competence.
  3. Ensure powers available to Welsh Ministers under the Bill are strictly limited and far more tightly drawn than those currently set-out in the Bill.
  4. Prevent UK Ministers from amending aspects of EU-derived law that affect Wales unless reserved.
  5. Prevent UK or Welsh Ministers amending the Government of Wales Act using delegated powers.
  6. Ensure that the Assembly can set its own scrutiny arrangements.

Alongside these objectives the Committee sent suggested amendments to achieve its six objectives.

12 October 2017 David Davis gives a statement at the end of the fifth round of negotiations.
19 October 2017 Theresa May wrote an open letter to EU citizens in the UK.
19 – 20 October 2017 The European Council (Article 50), in an EU 27 format, called for more progress regarding citizens’ rights, the Irish border, and financial obligations. EU27 leaders agreed to start internal preparations for the second phase of the Brexit talks.
24 October 2017 Carwyn Jones makes an oral statement on the Brexit negotiations.
30 October 2017 Theresa May meets Carwyn Jones to discuss Brexit.
7 November 2017 Government publishes a policy paper providing details of the UK’s proposed administrative procedures for EU citizens obtaining settled status, Citizens’ rights: administrative procedures in the UK.
10 November 2017 David Davies give a statement on the latest round of EU negotiations.
13 November 2017 David Davies gives a statement to the House of Commons, updating them on the EU negotiations and plans for a Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill.
8 December 2017 Joint report from the EU and UK Government published outlining progress during Phase 1 of the negotiations under Article 50.

Agreement in principle has been made on:

  1. protecting the rights of Union citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the Union;
  2. the framework for addressing the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland; and
  3. the financial settlement.
11 December 2017 Prime Minister Teresa May updates the House of Commons on Brexit Negotiations.
18 December 2017 Prime Minister Teresa May gives a statement to Parliament on the latest European Council meeting.
20 December 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May’s writes an open letter to UK nationals living in Europe.
18 January 2018 The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill  has its first reading in the House of Lords.
26 January 2018 The Chancellor, Brexit Secretary and Business Secretary write an open letter to businesses, setting out the UK’s ambitions for an ‘implementation period’ (transition period) following Brexit.
30-31 January 2018 The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has its Second Reading in the House of Lords.
2 February 2008 Welsh Government produces a report on Regional Investment in Wales after Brexit.
6 February 2018 The next round of EU negotiations takes place.
8 February 2018 Technical Note published outlining the UK’s position on international agreements during the implementation period.
19-20 February 2018 Further EU negotiations takes place.
2 March 2018 Prime Minister Teresa May gives a speech on the UK’s future economic partnership with the European Union.
June 2018 The summary report outlining the results of the engagement exercise carried out on Regional Investment in Wales after Brexit is produced.
12 July 2018 Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford, announces 7 new members of the European Advisory Group.
12 October 2018 Finance Secretary for Wales Mark Drakeford gives a speech at EU funding post brexit event outlining how EU funding will be replaced following the UK’s departure from the EU.
17 – 18 October EU summit. Prime Minister Theresa May updated the leaders on the UK perspective of the negotiations. EU27 leaders reaffirmed their full confidence in Michel Barnier as the negotiator and their determination to stay united, but noted that not enough progress has been achieved.
22 October 2018 The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU delivers a statement on a Meaningful Vote.

Theresa May gives a Statement to the House of Commons to update Members on the October European Council meeting.

29 October 2018 UK Budget Day, Chancellor Philip Hammond announces £500m for no-deal Brexit preparations.
14 November 2018 The Withdrawal Agreement is agreed in principle and published, outlining the terms of the UK’s departure.
15 November 2018 Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigns as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and is replaced by Stephen Barclay the following day. Several other Ministers resign.

PM Theresa May updates the House of Commons on the EU exit negotiations, and later gives a statement.

16 November 2018 Stephen Barclay appointed as the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
19 November 2018 PM Theresa May delivers a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), outlining the Brexit outcomes the government expects to deliver.
21 November 2018 PM Theresa May has a meeting with First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones to discuss Brexit negotiations. She then meets with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, to finalise the Brexit deal.
25 November 2018 The European Council endorses the Withdrawal Agreement and approves the political declaration on future EU-UK relations.
26 November 2018 PM Theresa May delivers a statement to the House of Commons on the European Council meeting to finalise the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union.
29 November 2018 Keir Starmer, The Shadow Brexit Secretary, suggests the government is withholding information after it announced it would publish a “full, reasoned, positions statement” but not the full legal advice on Brexit that it has received.
30 November 2018 At the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, PM Theresa May tells world leaders that the Brexit agreement reached with the EU is a ‘good deal’ for the global economy.
3 December 2018 The Attorney General makes a statement to the House of Commons on the legal position of the Withdrawal Agreement.
4 December 2018 MPs start the first of five days of debates on the Withdrawal Agreement.
5 December 2018 The Government publishes the Attorney General’s full, final, legal advice to Cabinet on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland on the legal effect of the Withdrawal Agreement.

PM Theresa May discusses progress on the negotiations made with the Irish Taoiseach, specifically the backstop and the UK’s commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.

Day 2 of House of Commons debates on the Withdrawal Agreement and the future UK-EU relationship.

6 December 2018 The Prime Minister announces the formation of five new business councils to advise on how to create the best business conditions in the UK post-Brexit.

Day 3 of House of Commons debates on the Withdrawal Agreement and the future UK-EU relationship.

10 December 2018 The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issues its judgement on the Wightman case, finding unilateral revocation of Article 50 TEU is a sovereign right for any Member State to pursue, provided a withdrawal agreement has not been entered into, either during the 2 year period laid down in Article 50, or during any extension to this that has been agreed.

PM Theresa May gives a statement to the House of Commons on Exiting the European Union and announces a delay to the Meaningful Vote, originally planned for the next day.

Stephen Barclays (Secretary of State for Exiting the EU) makes a statement to the House of Commons in response to the CJEU’s ruling on the Wightman Article 50 case.

11 December 2018 The Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper, is granted an Urgent Question on the Government’s duty under Section 13 of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 should no deal be reached by 21 January 2019.

Junior Brexit Minister Robin Walker, responds “If Parliament were to reject the deal, the Government would be required to make a statement on our proposed next steps and table a motion in neutral terms on that statement”.

The House of Commons holds an opposition-led Emergency Debate on the Government’s management of the meaningful vote debate.

12 December 2018 Sir Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee, announces that enough Tory MPs have a requested a vote of confidence in Theresa May as Conservative leader.

In the ballot that takes place, Theresa May wins the vote of confidence by 200 to 117.

13 December 2018 The European Council (meeting as EU27) adopts conclusions on Brexit, including further assurances on the Northern Ireland backstop.
14 December 2018 PM Theresa May holds a press conference following the European Council meeting.
17 December 2018 The PM gives a statement to the House of Commons.

The SNP makes an application to hold an Emergency Debate on UK-EU negotiations. The Speaker later gives a Statement confirming an emergency debate will be held the following day.

18 December 2018 The SNP lead an Emergency Debate in the House of Commons on the current UK-EU Brexit negotiations.
19 December 2018 Keir Starmer, Shadow Brexit Secretary, is granted an Emergency Debate on preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
20 December 2018 The UK reaches agreements with the EEA EFTA states and Switzerland on withdrawal issues including citizens’ rights post-Brexit.
3 January 2019 The Government publishes updated Brexit guidance for UK nationals living in the EU, in the absence of a withdrawal agreement.
7 January 2019 Jeremy Corbyn is granted an Urgent Question in the House of Commons on legal changes to the EU Withdrawal Agreement and the timetable in the House for a Meaningful Vote.

First Minister Mark Drakeford releases a statement warning of the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

8 January 2019 MPs debate the Report Stage and Third Reading of the Finance (No. 3) Bill. MPs approve an amendment (303 votes to 296) that limits the government’s financial powers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The First Minister of Wales launches a £50m fund help Welsh businesses and public services plan and prepare for Brexit.

9 January 2019 The Speaker of the House of Commons allows an amendment to the business motion by Dominic Grieve, which is passed by 308 votes to 297. This amendment means that if the government loses the ‘meaningful vote’ on 15 January 2019, then the Prime Minister will then have to present a new ‘Plan B’ Brexit plan within three days.

The House of Commons then commences five days of Brexit debates.

10 January 2019 Day 2 of the Brexit debates on the EU Withdrawal Agreement.
11 January 2019 The Prime Minister gives a statement to the House of Commons on the further assurances and clarifications received from the European Union on the Northern Ireland protocol.

Day 4 of the Brexit debates.

15 January 2019 Day 5 of the Brexit debates on the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The ‘Meaningful Vote’ takes place, with the government suffering a huge defeat, losing the vote by a majority of 230 (with 202 voting in favour of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal and 432 against).

The Leader of the Opposition tables a motion of no confidence in the Government, with a vote on the motion to be held at 7pm the next day, following a debate.

16 January 2019 The House of Commons votes on a motion of confidence in the Government.
21 January 2019 Having lost the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal, this is the deadline for the Prime Minister to return to the Commons with a ‘Plan B’.

Yvette Cooper presented a Private Member’s bill, the European Union (No. 3) Bill 2017-19, The Bill would create a legal mechanism whereby the House of Commons can instruct the Prime Minister to ask the European Council for an extension to Article 50 in the absence of an approval resolution for an exit deal from the EU.

22 January 2019 First Minister, Mark Drakeford, issues a press release, calling on the UK government urgently to take a no deal Brexit off the table.
23 January 2019 Welsh Government launches a website, Preparing Wales, providing information on what it believes will happen if there is no deal.
24 January 2019 Briefing released ahead of the further debate on 28 and 29 Jan on the Purposes of Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.