The EU Referendum in June 2016 was a vote by British citizens on whether the country should stay or leave the European Union. It is often referred to as BREXIT which is shorthand for “British Exit.” The history behind the word BREXIT seems to reference GREXIT when there was talk about Greece exiting the EU and several sources seem to feel that the word BREXIT originated with Peter Wilding’s post "Stumbling towards the Brexit" (May 15, 2012). Below a few key dates in the history of the EU/Great Britain relationship (for more information see the complete timeline ).
- In 1957 the European Economic Community (EEC) was created with the Treaty of Rome.
- The United Kingdom joined the EEC in 1973.
- The EEC/EU – UK relationship was never easy. A Referendum in 1975 kept the country in the EEC but Euroscepticism never went away.
- On November 1, 1993 the Maastricht Treaty changed the EEC to the EU.
- In February 2016 Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a Referendum was to be held so that voters could decide whether to remain in the EU or to leave it.
- On June 23, 2016 the Referendum was held and 52% of voters voted to leave the EU. That vote was just about What to do. The How is heavily focused on Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which when invoked, is when the negotiations between the EU and the UK on the terms of the exit begin.
- On February 8, 2017 the House of Commons passed legislation Wednesday to allow the government to officially begin the Brexit process.
- On March 14, 2017 the British Parliament passed a bill that will allow Prime Minister Theresa May to start talks to leave the European Union.
- On March 28, 2017 the UK signed the letter that triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which is the beginning of the 2-year legal process for Britain to leave the EU.
- On June 19, 2017 the formal negotiations began for the UK to leave the European Union.
For more about the history and development of the EEC / EU and to trace the key events that have changed the Common Market from the UK perspective, see Parliament's Living Heritage page.
Business Reference Specialist
Last updated: 07/17/2017