On 23 June 2016, the UK electorate voted to leave the European Union and on 29 March 2017, the UK notified
the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union
. The European Council adopted a set of political guidelines on 29 April 2017, which define the framework for the negotiations and set out the EU's overall positions and principles. Brexit negotiations
between the EU and the UK began on 19 June 2017.
On 14 November 2018 the Heads of State/Government of the remaining 27 EU Member States approved a Withdrawal Agreement
negotiated by the European Commission and the UK Government. A Political Declaration on future EU-UK relations was also approved at the same time.
The UK’s membership of the EU was initially due to lapse on 30 March 2019, two years from the day it formally notified of its intention to withdraw from the EU. However, the European Council decided, in agreement with the UK, to extend the two-year period provided for by Article 50, until 31 October 2019.
On 17 October 2019, it was announced that the EU and the UK had reached a revised Withdrawal Agreement
, which includes a revised Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol
and a revised Political Declaration
. Under the revised Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland would remain aligned to certain Single Market rules, avoiding the requirement for a customs border on the island of Ireland, while ensuring that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK's customs territory. The revised Withdrawal Agreement must be ratified by the UK Parliament and the EU.
On 28 October 2019, the EU agreed a further three-month extension to the Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019, making the new Brexit deadline 31 January 2020. However, the terms of the extension are flexible and provide for the UK to leave the EU earlier than 31 January 2020 if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified before that date. If the UK ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before 31 January 2020, it will formally leave the EU. on the first day of the following month. For example, if ratified in December, the UK will leave the EU on 1 January 2020.
If the Withdrawal Agreement comes into effect, a transition period will commence. The UK will continue, for the purposes of the movement of goods, as if it were a full EU Member State until the end of that transition period. The transition period will end on 31 December 2020 or may be extended up to 31 December 2022 if agreed by the EU and the UK.
The Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union) Act 2019 was enacted on 17 March 2019 in preparation for the possibility that the UK fails to agree a deal for their departure from the EU.