Britain’s big battle over Brexit ended with a whimper not a bang on Thursday as parliament easily ratified Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s divorce terms with the European Union.
Here are the milestones in the country’s rocky breakup with its closest partners, which enters into force on January 31.
– Leave wins –
In a June 23, 2016 referendum that followed decades of arguments over Europe, Britons vote by 52 to 48 percent to become the first nation to leave the EU bloc.
Conservative leader David Cameron, who led the campaign to remain and called the vote expecting to win, resigns as prime minister the next day.
– May in –
Theresa May, the interior minister who also backed remaining in the EU, becomes prime minister on July 13.
She formally triggers the exit process on March 29, 2017, sending a notification letter to Brussels that gives Britain until March 29, 2019 to leave.
– Draft agreed –
Ending more than a year of acrimonious talks, British and EU negotiators on November 13, 2018 reach a draft divorce deal and it is approved by EU leaders a week later.
But May faces an angry backlash from her own party over the terms amid fears it would leave Britain interminably trapped in EU trade rules.
– Triple rejection –
In a first parliament vote on the deal on January 15, 2019, MPs vote 432 to 202 against — the biggest government defeat in British parliamentary history.
The next day the government narrowly survives a vote of no confidence.
The House of Commons rejects the deal again on March 12 by 391 to 242.
On March 27, May promises to resign if her Brexit deal is adopted. Parliament votes against it for a third time on March 29 — by 344 to 286.
– Deadline delays –
The EU agrees to delay Brexit until May 22 and then until October 31, 2019.
It means Britain is obliged to organize European Parliament elections on May 23, which are won by the Brexit Party of anti-EU populist Nigel Farage.
– Johnson elected –
The European election defeat prompts May to announce she will step down as Conservative leader on June 7.
On July 23, party members vote for Brexit figurehead Boris Johnson as their new leader. He becomes prime minister the next day.
Anxious over Farage’s surge in support, Johnson promises to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, with or without a deal, and publishes his “final” Brexit proposals on October 2.
– The endgame –
On October 22 British MPs approve in principle the Brexit deal struck with the EU. But they reject Johnson’s bid to fast-track final approval before October 31.
On October 28, EU members agree to postpone Brexit for up to three months, until January 31.
Johnson’s thumping win at a December 12 snap general election smoothes his Brexit bill’s passage through parliament, setting the stage for another year of tough talks on the future EU-UK partnership.