- Title: A year later, shock of Britain's vote to leave EU still reverberating
- Date: 21st June 2017
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (RECENT - JUNE 19, 2017) (REUTERS) EU COMMISSION BUILDING EU FLAGS
- Embargoed: 5th July 2017 18:19
- Keywords: Scotland EU referendum Northern Ireland Article 50 Brexit David Cameron Nigel Farage independence referendum David Davis Theresa May election Jean-Claude Juncker European Union Nicola Sturgeon
- Location: LONDON, MANCHESTER, ORMSKIRK, PETERBOROUGH AND MAIDENHEAD, ENGLAND, UK / PARIS, FRANCE / BRUSSELS, BELGIUM / UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION
- City: LONDON, MANCHESTER, ORMSKIRK, PETERBOROUGH AND MAIDENHEAD, ENGLAND, UK / PARIS, FRANCE / BRUSSELS, BELGIUM / UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0176M82WCN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Britain's shock vote on June 23 last year to quit the European Union ushered in a period of political turmoil and deep divisions that are still being felt 12 months on.
The result caused wild celebrations among supporters of Brexit, including the firebrand leader of the anti-EU party UKIP, Nigel Farage, who declared June 23 would be Britain's "Independence Day". But for many of the 48 percent of voters who had wanted to remain in the European club Britain joined in 1973, the vote caused consternation and sadness. Tens of thousands marched in London to show their support for the EU.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who had called the in/out referendum on EU membership and campaigned passionately for Britain to stay in the bloc, announced his resignation the morning after the vote.
The abrupt end of Cameron's political career triggered a chaotic battle to succeed him in which leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson had been expected to prevail, but dramatically dropped out at the last minute after being disavowed by a close ally.
Theresa May, who had been Cameron's interior minister for six years, was the last candidate left standing after a bruising contest. She entered Number 10 Downing Street as prime minister for the first time on July 13.
Over the following months the government had to contend with a legal challenge led by pro-EU activist Gina Miller, who argued in court that ministers did not have the right to trigger Article 50, the formal step to kick off exit negotiations, without an act of parliament. The case went to the Supreme Court, and the government lost. However, after much political to-ing and fro-ing, parliament passed a short act and Article 50 was triggered in March.
Having spent months saying it would not be in the national interest to call an early election, May then did precisely that, arguing that she needed the voters to "strengthen her hand" in Brexit negotiations with the 27 other EU members by giving her a bigger majority in parliament than the one she had inherited from Cameron.
But after a lacklustre campaign her gamble went disastrously wrong on election day, June 8, when her party lost its majority and the opposition Labour Party gained seats. May was left fighting for her political survival, her grip on power hanging by a threat. She was seeking a deal with Northern Ireland's small, socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party to support her minority government.
With the deal still not a bag and May's authority in tatters, the Brexit negotiations officially kicked off on June 19. They are expected to be the most arduous in European post-war history.
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