By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)
While the result of the EU referendum has been thoroughly analysed and discussed, warts and all, members of the public still feel lost and confused as to what is happening.
Since June 24, news about Brexit has been a daily occurrence, virtually impossible to discuss anything political without the issue that divided a nation rearing its head.
To help shed a little more light on the issue, UWS Newsroom has compiled a timeline of all the repercussions and progress, or lack thereof, made since 51% of the country voted to remove Britain from the European Union.
A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.
The political consequences of a Brexit vote began to become more and more evident as July came around.
Firstly, the Conservative party chose Theresa May as their new leader though this was less choice and more of a last woman standing situation. However, despite saying Brexit means Brexit, the High Court was told that Theresa May would not trigger article 50 of the Lisbon treaty initiating the UK’s departure from the European Union before the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, other major parties started to have a shuffle of their own. UKIP leader Nigel Farage. who had fought endlessly for the UK to leave the EU, resigned as leader of the party following the result, calling it his political ambition. Speaking at a Westminster press conference, Farage said:
During the referendum I said I wanted my country back … now I want my life back.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn found himself fighting for his life as he launched a campaign to be re-elected leader of the party less than a year after he won with an overwhelming majority. Mr Corbyn said Labour was “stronger” than when he took over as leader, claiming it had forced the government to abandon its austerity strategy and “changed the debate” on welfare.
All of this in addition to the news of one of Britain’s leading economic think-tanks reporting that the UK economy had shrank by 0.2% led many to panic.
Now that the country had a Prime Minister, it was finally time for negotiations about Brexit to take place.
The Telegraph reported that Theresa May would not hold a parliamentary vote on Brexit before opening negotiations to formally trigger Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. “There was a strong emphasis on pushing ahead to article 50 to lead Britain successfully out of the European Union – with no need for a parliamentary vote,” May’s spokeswoman said.
In addition to this, May agreed with her cabinet that restricting immigration would be a red line in any negotiations with the EU, in a move that experts claimed would end Britain’s membership of the single market.
For the first time since Brexit, economic news was positive. Official figures showed that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance actually fell in the month following the referendum, the first such drop since February. However, economists warned of steeper prices rises in the coming months as the full impact of the weaker pound is felt.
Stability seemed to return to the UK political scene as Jeremy Corbyn achieved a decisive victory over competitor Owen Smith to be elected as Labour leader for a second time.
Speaking after his victory, Corbyn said:
We are proud as a party that we’re not afraid to discuss openly, to debate and disagree that is essential for a party that wants to change people’s lives for the better that isn’t prepared to accept things as they are.
While Labour started to repair their broken party, Theresa May and co. spent most of September focusing on starting negotiations on a Brexit deal. At a press conference, European Council president Donald Tusk let slip that the PM had told him it was “quite likely” the UK would trigger Article 50 in January or February 2017.
Liam Fox gave the strongest hint yet that the Government would prioritise border controls over membership of the Single Market after it leaves the European Union. The International Trade Secretary yesterday heralded the “glorious opportunity” of Brexit as he said for the first time that he wants Britain to become a full independent member of the World Trade Organisation.
While focus had been on Britain, Scotland was essentially left out of all major discussions. With the country voting overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, it was no surprise when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a second independence referendum.
Ms Sturgeon said Scotland had the right to choose a different path if it was not allowed to protect its interests “within the UK” and told delegates that Scotland had the right to seek something better if there were prospects of an unstable future as part of the UK.
Dr Philippa Whitford, MP for Central Ayrshire, reacted to the news, saying:
“I think how the people in Scotland voted in the EU referendum is pretty clear, the majority wanted to remain. There’s not been any cognisance So we hear there might be a special for Nissan to invest, there might be a special deal for London, there might even be a special setup to avoid border problems in Northern Ireland but the area that voted clearly as a country to remain is ignored.
However, Scottish Secretary David Mundell called on Ms Sturgeon to “commit her government to working constructively with the UK government to seize the opportunities that will bring, not taking Scotland back to the divisive constitutional debates of the past”.
Meanwhile, Theresa May told fellow EU leaders that she expects Britain to be part of EU-decision making until Brexit happens. Both the French president and German chancellor warned if Mrs May pursued a “hard Brexit”, talks would be hard too.
Uncertainty was the key theme of November.
Firstly, the BBC learned that the UK government was facing a legal battle over whether the UK stays inside the single market after it has left the EU. According to lawyers, there was a grey area about the UK’s European Economic Area membership which meant ministers could be stopped from taking Britain out of the single market.
There were also concerns regarding British MEPS being sidelined by the EU. EU Parliament President Martin Schulz said that a move was underway in the European Parliament to exclude sitting British MEPs from key committee positions before Britain leaves the European Union amid worries the UK could shape EU legislation before it exits the bloc.
The request by the parliament president reflects growing concerns from a number of MEPs that British MEPs may attempt to influence EU legislation to suit Britain’s own agenda as the country prepares for Brexit.