UK had left the European Union

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The UK left the European Union on January 31, 2020 at 23:00 London time. The reason for the withdrawal was the result of a consultative referendum on June 23, 2016, when 51.9% of voters supported the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union [3].

The UK joined the European Communities, which became the foundation for the future European Union, on January 1, 1973, and reaffirmed this membership in a 1975 referendum. While in the 1970s and 1980s the political left demanded the exit from the European Communities, by the 2010s the exit from the EU became the main political goal of the conservative opposition – nationalists and Eurosceptics. Following the 2016 referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron, who advocated keeping Britain in the EU, resigned and was replaced by Theresa May.

On March 29, 2017, the UK government initiated the withdrawal procedure in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union; the state was expected to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019 at 23:00 GMT [4]. However, as a result of tough disagreements both between the leading parties in parliament and within the UK government itself, the release date was postponed several times – the parliament rejected the proposed exit plans and obliged the government to ask the EU for a delay [5] [6] [7]; in turn, the European Council agreed to extend the release date until 31 October 2019 [8] [9]. The controversy stemmed from differing views on the exit process and the future of the UK after it: Labor insisted on maintaining a customs union with the EU, while many Conservative Party members considered unacceptable the proposed exit plans for UK financial obligations to the EU, and also the creation of customs barriers on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland itself, which remains part of the European Union. At the same time, smaller parties like the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and others demanded a new referendum to keep Britain in the EU.

As a result of ongoing disagreements, Theresa May announced her resignation as prime minister in May 2019. Her successor Boris Johnson, who was elected by the members of the Conservative Party to this post in July 2019, was also unable to obtain any significant concessions from the EU, and, moreover, within the framework of the law passed by parliament on September 9, 2019, he was obliged to ask the EU leadership for further postponement of the date of exit from the union [10].

In parliamentary elections on December 12, 2019, conservatives in favor of Britain’s exit from the EU won the majority of seats. In January 2020, a law on leaving the European Union was passed and came into force.

At midnight from 31 January to 1 February CET, the UK withdrew from the European Union. [11] Under an agreement with the EU on January 31, 2020, the UK lost its representation and voting rights in the EU authorities, but at the same time it will remain part of the single economic space until the end of 2020.

For 11 months, the UK and the EU negotiated new terms of trade and cooperation [12], which ended on December 24, 2020 after reaching agreement on a draft Trade and Cooperation Agreement [13] [14], which requires ratification by both sides and will apply on a temporary basis, until February 28, 2021 [15].

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