TWO and a half years ago we voted to leave the European Union in a historic vote.
But after a chaotic few days – weeks – years – at Westminster, the public has been left wondering whether it will really happen as planned? Here’s what you need to know.
When does Britain leave the EU?
Britain’s departure deadline is 11pm on Friday, March 29, 2019.
In between this date and December 31, 2020, there is expected to be some form of transition period.
The grace period will allow businesses and others to prepare for the day the new post-Brexit rules between the UK and EU begin.
Free movement will continue throughout the transition period.
The UK will be able to make its own trade deals, however, they will not come into force until January 21, 2021.
Future relations between the UK and EU have been subject to extensive negotiations, but it is not yet known how things will work in the long term.
Both sides hope they can agree within six months about issues such as trade, travel and security.
The deal could then be given the go ahead in time for the day the UK leaves.
Could the departure date be delayed?
Just months before the UK was due to extract itself from the EU, Theresa May finally agreed on a departure deal with the EU – only to realise most of Parliament wouldn’t back it.
So at the eleventh hour she pulled a Commons vote asking MPs to agree on the Brexit plan – a move that backfired when it triggered a vote of no confidence the very next day – the first in nearly 40 years.
May narrowly survived the vote on December 12, 2018, but was left with little room for manoeuvre – and further proof that most of her MPs don’t like her plan one jot.
May is now hell-bent on getting further assurances from EU leaders to sweeten the deal for her MPs as time for striking a deal rapidly runs out.
But so far they don’t seem to be giving her what her MPs really want – including a firm end-date for backstop.
A Commons vote took place on January 15, which May lost by historic margins, 432 to 202.
This was swiftly followed by a vote of no confidence, which May managed to win.
If EU leaders and Parliament reach no agreement in the next three months, then Britain is set to crash out of the EU with no formal arrangements for the future relationship.
A no deal would also see residency rights for EU nationals in the UK potentially disappear overnight.
There is also uncertainty over what would happen at the 310 mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Customs checks on cross-Channel freight could also cause havoc at ports, hitting food supplies and other goods such a motor parts.
This is a scenario that everyone seemed desperate to avoid – but the Government is now scrambling to prepare for.
Civil service chief executive John Manzoni said Whitehall would double the number of staff working on Brexit if talks collapse and Britain ‘crashes out’ of the EU on March 29.
There have been calls for May to take the option of a No Deal Brexit off the table and rebels MPs are on course to delay Brexit by as much as nine months as support grows for a wrecking motion in the Commons.
No10 has concluded that ministers are unable to block an amendment tabled by Yvette Cooper which takes No Deal off the table.
There will be a crunch vote on Tuesday where MPs will get a chance to vote on the way forward.
A bumper 14 motions have been tabled by MPs keen to secure their favoured outcome.
The most likely to succeed was tabled by Labour’s Ms Cooper and Tory Nick Boles.
It says that if Britain is on course for a No Deal Brexit, Article 50 – the legal mechanism taking us out of the EU – should be suspended for as long as nine months.
Labour are very likely to back the measure – although the delay could be cut to three months.
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When was the Brexit referendum?
Britain went to the polling stations on June 23, 2016.
The EU referendum asked voters whether they wanted Britain to leave the European Union or remain in it.
The vote resulted in 51.89 per cent in favour of leaving and 48.11 per cent wanting to remain.
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