What is Brexit?
AbbreviationFinder.org, The word Brexit denotes Britain's exit from the European Union. We have summarized
the most important things for you and answered some questions.
Brexit facts and figures
Brexit is a compound word from Britain (German: Great Britain) and Exit
- June 23, 2016: referendum
All citizens of Great Britain were asked to vote on whether their country
should remain in the European Union ( EU ) or exit. The word for this is called
a referendum. What many did not expect: Most people chose to leave. The country
was and still is very divided. The majority were very narrow, 51.9% of the
people voted for Brexit.
- July 13, 2016: Theresa May becomes new Prime Minister
After the vote, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation. The
latter had promoted staying in the EU. Theresa May became his successor. She has
the task of negotiating the exit with the EU. It introduced several laws and a
minister for leaving the EU.
- March 29, 2017: Application to leave the EU
Theresa May has submitted a written application to leave the EU to President
Donald Tusk. Now the withdrawal must take place within two years. It won't be
- June 19, 2017: First negotiations
In Brussels, the EU Commission starts negotiations on the exit for the first
time. However, the first successes did not follow until December 2017. According
to Theresa May, fundamental problems have now been clarified.
- March 2018: The "backstop" should solve problems
The situation on the Irish island is considered the biggest crux of the
negotiations. A solution will be announced for the first time in March
2018. Northern Ireland and Ireland are two different countries, of which only
one will belong to the EU after Brexit. An EU external border would thus run
between the two countries, which would result in border fences and customs
controls. However, the Irish Peace Treaty of 1998 stipulates that the country's
border must not affect the peaceful coexistence of the islanders. Border
conflicts are to be prevented with the "backstop". Accordingly, Great Britain is
to form a customs union with the EU for at least two more years and Northern
Ireland remains in the EU's internal market (a delimited economic area). This
regulation applies until it succeeds
- July 6, 2018: Dispute in the British Parliament
Theresa May finally presents a concrete exit concept. Meanwhile, the British
government is becoming more and more controversial. Many disagree with the
"backstop" and call for new negotiations. The EU Commission is also
irritable. It is criticized that the UK has still not set clear targets nine
months before the planned exit.
- November 25, 2018: The agreement is signed
After endless negotiations and much argument, the Brexit agreement is finally
signed by all 27 EU member states. However, the British Parliament still has to
approve this agreement.
- December 12, 2018: vote of no confidenceagainst May
However, many politicians from Parliament are not satisfied with
the contract. Above all, the "backstop" annoys them very much. Therefore critics
of Theresa May called for a vote of no confidence. The members of the party had
to vote if they wanted to keep May as chair. It received 117 votes against, but
another 200 politicians said they continue to trust May. So she survived the
vote and remains prime minister.
- January 2019: vote is postponed
The vote in Parliament on the agreement with the EU should actually take
place in December. However, because Theresa May was certain that the contract
would not win an absolute majority, she postponed the vote until
mid-January. How the vote will turn out is still unclear. An unregulated Brexit
in spring 2019, i.e. without clear agreements, is becoming more and more likely.
- January and March 2019: British Parliament votes against May's
Theresa May has negotiated a contract with the EU. The EU makes it clear that
it will not make any further changes. May presents the Brexit contract three
times to the British House of Commons. Parliament always votes against the
deal. Theresa May postpones the vote and tries to win over British politicians
to the contract, but to no avail. In between there was also a vote of no
confidence that May survived. She also worked on a "Plan B": The "hard Brexit",
that is, the unregulated exit of the UK is becoming more and more likely.
Shortly before the 3rd vote in the lower house, the EU extended the deadline
from March 29 to April 12, 2019.
- April: EU decides to postpone Brexit deadline
At a special summit, the European Union decides to extend the deadline for
Britain's exit from the EU. The new date is October 31, 2019.
- July 24, 2019: Theresa May resigns and Boris Johnson becomes the
new Prime Minister
After Theresa May failed three times in the Brexit vote in the British
Parliament, she resigns. Parliament elected Boris Johnson, who is considered a
Brexit hardliner. That means: He is likely to pull through Brexit - with and
without a contract with the EU.
- August 28, 2019: Johnson gives Parliament a mandatory break
Boris Johnson orders the UK Parliament to close from September 10th to
October 14th, 2019. The break in the session does not suit many politicians so
shortly before the Brexit date.
- EU agrees: New date for Brexit is January 31, 2020
- December 12, 2019: General election - Boris Johnson remains
The prime minister announced new elections. His plan worked: the British
chose him and his party and thus also Brexit - and that very clearly. The
opposing party, the Liberals, have lost seats in parliament.
- December 2019 and January 2020: Parliament and EU vote in favor
of draft exit
In December Boris Johnson submitted a new draft EU treaty to the House of
Commons. The contract has over 500 pages. They voted for it. In January the
upper house also voted for it. On January 29, 2020, EU politicians also
confirmed the treaty.
- January 31, 2020: Brexit Day
Great Britain officially leaves the European Union at midnight. There is a
transitional solution until the end of 2020, so not much will change for now.
How did Brexit come about?
The British never wanted to go along with everything the EU decided. For
example, they have the pound as their currency, in most other EU member states
you pay with the euro. Many do not like the fact that so many EU citizens from
other countries are allowed to come and work and live in their country. Many
also fear that their country will lose sovereignty, i.e. self-determination. In
her opinion, the UK should be able to determine many things that are decided in
the EU. The financial crisis was also an important point. British politicians
did not want to pay money for Greece at the time. But there are more reasons why
the British criticize the EU.
Prime Minister David Cameron tried to negotiate individual matters with the
EU and give his country more freedom. That didn't work. He got a lot of pressure
from other British politicians here. That's why he brought out his own law
called the EU referendum. United Kingdom citizens should be able to vote whether
their country should remain in the EU or not.
Maybe not a Brexit after all?
This question has been around for a long time. The referendum was also very
short: 51.9% voted to leave. Younger British in particular are critical of
Brexit. But there was not a second referendum (i.e. a vote of the population),
as many suspected.
How long has Great Britain been in the EU?
The country joined in 1973 the predecessor of the EU, the European Economic
Isn't Britain a monarchy?
You might think: Great Britain has the Queen! Why is Theresa May or Boris
Johnson in the media all the time? Of course you are right. Britain has a
so-called parliamentary monarchy. Queen Elisabeth II is the head of state.
The Queen has various "representative" tasks, such as receiving other
politicians, hiring ministers or confirming laws. She actually has similar tasks
to our Federal President, only she is not elected, but born into her position.
The Prime Minister, on the other hand, is responsible for politics, similar
to our Chancellor. Theresa May initially took on the job when the population
decided to exit the EU. Her job was not that easy, she failed because of it. The
successor is Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister's job is to negotiate a deal with
the European Union and have it signed by the British Parliament.
There are many EU agreements signed by British politicians. All of them now
have to be looked at and the EU has to negotiate new contracts with the British.