By: Marc Wessels

Brexit is the proposed withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The term Brexit is a portmanteau of the words ‘BRitish’ and ‘EXIT’. On 23 June 2016, a referendum was held by the British Parliament on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. The question put to the British people was: should the UK remain in the EU or leave? A small majority of 51.89% opted for withdrawal from the EU.

When will Brexit happen?

On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom officially announced its intention to leave the European Union in accordance with the so-called Article 50 procedure. The date chosen for this definitive withdrawal was 31 October 2019. In principle, the United Kingdom will officially stop being part of the EU on that date, unless both parties agree to an extension.

How did the Brexit referendum come about?

In 2015, David Cameron was re-elected as Prime Minister of the UK on behalf of the Conservative Party. In their election programme, the Conservatives had promised a binding referendum on withdrawal from the EU. The referendum was announced on 27 May 2015, during the Queen’s Speech. Cameron himself was in favour of remaining in the EU, provided that it agreed to his negotiating terms, which it did, on 20 February 2016. Subsequently, the prime minister announced that the Brexit referendum would take place later that same year, on 23 June 2016.

Members of Cameron’s cabinet were free to advocate on behalf of either remain or leave. Sixteen cabinet members, including Cameron himself, were in favour of remaining in the EU, with the five remaining members publicly voicing their support for withdrawal. Since the results of the referendum were to be binding, the vote of the British people would directly determine the government’s course of action. On 23 June 2016, the ‘leave camp’ won by a small majority.

What happened after the referendum?

After the referendum, Prime Minister Cameron resigned and Theresa May was chosen to replace him and tasked with overseeing the Brexit process. May is a strong advocate for a Brexit deal with the European Union, whereby both parties experience the least possible damage. The first Brexit deal proposed by May was rejected by the British Parliament, however, after which she had to renegotiate for better terms with the European Union. If May’s new deal is also voted down, the UK will leave the EU without a deal.

Relocating to the Netherlands?

Brexit Amsterdam offers translation services and training courses to help you make the transition as smoothly as possible: