Tory Party leadership race
The formal start of the contest to succeed May as leader of the Conservative Party began officially after she stepped down on 7 June and the final decision to be announced on 22 July.
Of the initial 14 candidates, only Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt remain in the race. They are both currently campaigning around the country for their chance to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore Prime Minister.
Tory Party members will now vote to decide who wins, with the postal ballots already sent out and Eurosceptic Boris still the favourite to win.
Mid to late July
New Prime Minister
This will now be the biggest factor in determining the kind of Brexit the UK will seek. Neither of the MPs standing to replace May want to reverse the Brexit decision or hold a second referendum.
Any new UK leader will be firmly rebuffed by the EU if they try to reopen the withdrawal treaty, including the backstop to prevent a hard border with Ireland. There does exist the possibility that a new prime minister could renegotiate the less substantive parts of the withdrawal deal – the non-binding political declaration, setting out the future framework for the UK-EU trade relationship.
29 September - 2 October
Conservative Party conference
This will be the first major outing for the new Prime Minister. May used her first Tory Party conference as leader to set the course for her premiership, including her outlining her famous “red lines” for negotiations with the EU - essentially confirming her decision to pursue a hardline Brexit.
With Brexit barely a month away, the next Tory leader’s speech could prove equally as significant.
This is the last scheduled EU summit before the UK's departure from the bloc. It has the potential, therefore, to be hijacked by Brexit.
Brexit day…at last?
This is the date that could go down in history – when a no deal Brexit could take place, following the EU’s decision to postpone the UK’s departure twice from 29 March and 12 April.
EU’s leaders insist that, by this point, the UK must choose whether to ratify the exit treaty, opt for a no deal Brexit or cancel its departure.
The likelihood of a no deal Brexit has gone up, given the hard Brexit stances of May’s successors and her three-time failure to get her deal through the Commons; however, another delay can’t be ruled out.
If and when MPs vote for an exit agreement
If Parliament is able to agree on a final deal and approve a Brexit treaty in a meaningful vote, the government will put forward a new piece of legislation – the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. This will be a hugely consequential piece of legislation, as it has to resolve some of the biggest questions around Brexit, such as details of the transition, the agreement on citizens’ rights and the financial settlement.
For a Brexit deal to take effect it must also be approved by the European Parliament in a plenary vote. Anything considered legally questionable within the deal could be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by MEPs. EU member states must also approve the deal in a ministerial meeting.
After Brexit Day
Transition and trade talks
If and when Brexit takes place, the UK and EU can then enter in to trade talks with each other – something that is not allowed while Britain remains a member state.
This would also be when the 21-month transition period begins. This has been planned to help smooth the path of establishing the new UK and EU relationship. During this period, the UK would retain most elements of EU membership, including free movement across borders and continued membership of the customs union and single market. However, the country would no longer retain its right to vote on EU matters.
31 December 2020
The transition period is due to end on this day, although this could be subject to change, depending on the plan that is agreed on. And while the departure date has been brought forward several times, the end of the transition has not, meaning there will be less time for to finalise a deal and for businesses and others to adjust.
Plus, some EU representatives doubt that a full UK-EU trade deal will be reached by this point, due to the complexity of negotiations, and so there is scope for the transition to be extended up to 31 December 2022.
31 December 2022
If, at the end of the transition period, no deal is in place to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland, the backstop would automatically kick in.
The backstop keeps the entire UK in a ‘temporary’ customs union with the EU, although Northern Ireland will be more integrated into the bloc than the rest of the UK.
The backstop is something that hardline Brexiteers are deeply opposed to, arguing that it endangers the integrity of the UK’s borders, increases Brussels’ powers over Britain on tax, state aid and labour and environmental regulation and provides no guaranteed date for departure from the EU.
Stopping the backstop
Many who support Brexit but oppose the backstop favour a plan for ‘maximum facilitation’ that would allow the UK to exit the backstop by using on advanced technology to speed up custom clearances, would take years to put in place, thereby potentially delaying a full Brexit until well into the 2020s.
A similar, if less ambitious, ‘fast-track’ system used on the US-Canadian border took decades to develop and implement and billions of dollars in investment.