Hurrah, it’s finally happened.
Nearly four years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, there were celebrations and commiserations when at 11PM on January 31, Brexit finally happened.
It almost felt as though it was never going to happen. Leading up to referendum day on June 23, 2016, you would have scarcely found anyone on either side who actually believed that the vote would turn out a leave result. Consistent polling during the campaign found slim majorities or equal numbers, but, as we know, polls aren’t always perfect. As the results flowed in, there was shock on many fronts. Though it wouldn’t be announced by news organisations until later, it was clear at around 03:00 in the morning that the jig was up for remaining.
PM David Cameron, the man who had called the referendum in an attempt to get Eurosceptic backbenchers and UKIP off his back, knew that he couldn’t continue in his role. On the steps of Downing Street the next morning, he announced his resignation.
A flurry of MPs entered the race to be the next PM, the favourite Boris Johnson backstabbed by his ‘ally’ Michael Gove. Eventually, remainer Home Secretary Theresa May was crowned in an uncontested race. Vowing herself as a ‘born again Leaver,’ the new PM set out to work.
It wasn’t until March 29, 2017 that Theresa May officially triggered Article 50, the then-unused process for a country to leave the EU.
Of course, the path was never destined to run smoothly. Only a few weeks earlier, a court case that would become the bane of the government’s existence was settled. Businesswoman and hardcore remainer, Gina Miller, submitted a case to the UK Supreme Court that would force Parliament to agree to any Brexit deal before it was submitted. Though Ms. Miller stated she did it out of her belief in democracy, it was clear to many that it was a roadblock to Brexit.
The next two years were a difficult one for the government. Mrs. May saw three Secretary of States for Brexit, with one, Dominic Raab, lasting only four months in the role. Her worst defeat—and what should have been her Waterloo—was the 2017 General Election. Called to end the deadlock, it initially started on a high due to May’s popularity with the public. A terrible campaign, declining popularity and a hated manifesto changed all of that. Her party, after the election, saw themselves lose a majority, with popular figures losing their seats. Still, she clung on somehow.
She survived two votes of no confidence, one from her own party and one from Parliament, and come 2019, the withdrawal agreement arrived. Time and time again, the Prime Minister brought a Brexit deal to Parliament. A coalition of Labour agitators, hardcore Eurosceptic Conservatives and anti-Brexiters continued to vote against, all for different reasons, but the outcome always the same.
Though she found success in the council elections of 2019, the conservative party was decimated by the four-month old Brexit Party in the EU elections. After this and an extraordinary 70 conservative associations giving her a vote of no confidence, Theresa May announced that she would resign.
After several rounds of voting, Boris Johnson emerged victorious with 65% of the vote. Unfortunately, like his predecessor, Johnson was unable to get several withdrawal agreements through due to the nature of the minority government. After a case of proroguing, which was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Johnson was finally able to work up a majority to allow for a December election.
Come December 12 and the conservatives achieved a stinking majority of 80, the highest since Margaret Thatcher in 1987. Labour watched as seats that have never voted conservative before voted blue, the so-called ‘red wall’ down middle England crumbling along with their votes.
Finally armed with a mandate, Boris Johnson’s deal was agreed to by the new parliament on January 23. After it was signed for and voted upon by the EU, the past three and a half years of turmoil were finally finished. On January 31, leavers in the country erupted in celebration, the most notable being in Parliament Square.
Every Brit has their views on Brexit. Some still want to stop it. Others wanted us to walk without a deal. Whatever their belief, it is certain that democracy has won the day in the United Kingdom.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.