The big picture

Everything you need to know about Brexit

The U.K. has a new prime minister, but the same incredibly complex puzzle it's faced for the past two years.

Updated Oct 29, 2019 - World

All Brexit stories

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jan 1, 2021 - Economy & Business

Post-Brexit Britain arrives

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It took two general elections, three prime ministers, and just over 4 1/2 years, but as of today Britain finally has the Brexit it voted for in June 2016.

  • It's not a pretty sight.

The big picture: Britain has left Europe's single market and customs union, and is no longer governed by European law.

Updated Dec 31, 2020 - World

Post-Brexit trade deal with EU signed into U.K. law

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrates reaching a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. Photo via Downing Street

The historic post-Brexit trade deal reached between Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government and the European Union was signed into U.K. law by Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday morning.

Why it matters: The law will come into effect at 11pm Thursday U.K. time when the Brexit transition period officially ends.

Dec 28, 2020 - World

EU member states unanimously approve post-Brexit trade deal

The EU's chief Brexit negotiatior Michel Barnier (L) carrying the 2000-page Brexit deal with the Greek ambassador at an EU meeting on Dec. 25. Photo: Olivier Hoslet/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ambassadors for the European Union's 27 member states have unanimously approved the provisional application of a post-Brexit trade deal on Jan. 1, a German spokesperson confirmed on Monday.

Why it matters: It's an expected, but crucial step in staving off a potentially catastrophic "no-deal" Brexit on Jan. 1, coming days after the U.K. government and European Commission announced they had reached a stunning breakthrough after months of stalled negotiations.

Updated Dec 24, 2020 - World

U.K. and EU reach historic post-Brexit trade deal

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in January. Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

The United Kingdom and the European Union have reached a historic trade deal, staving off a potentially catastrophic "no-deal" Brexit cliff on Dec. 31.

Why it matters: The two sides appear to have defied the odds, striking a complex free trade agreement in record time after nine months of intense negotiations. Both the U.K. and EU had warned in recent weeks that a no-deal scenario was "very likely" as talks appeared on the verge of collapse.

Dec 21, 2020 - World

U.K. in crisis

Lorries parked on the highway after the Port of Dover was closed and access to the Eurotunnel terminal suspended. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

At least 31 countries, including 18 in the neighboring European Union, have banned travel from the United Kingdom after the British government warned that a new variant of the coronavirus could be up to 70% more transmissible.

Why it matters: Supply chains are being disrupted just days before the U.K. is set to end the Brexit transition period without a free trade agreement with the EU — its largest and closest trading partner. A no-deal Brexit could cause massive damage to a British economy that's already been ravaged by the pandemic.

Dec 13, 2020 - World

U.K. and EU agree to extend Brexit trade talks

Combination images of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photos: Julien Warnand/AFP via Getty Images; John Sibley/PA Images via Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Sunday they have agreed to extend negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal.

Why it matters: The deadline for a deal was Sunday. "Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile," the leaders said in a joint statement after speaking by phone on Sunday. "We have accordingly mandated our negotiators to continue the talks and to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached."

Go deeper: U.K., EU brace for no-deal Brexit cliff as trade talks falter

Updated Dec 10, 2020 - World

U.K., EU brace for no-deal Brexit cliff as trade talks falter

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Wednesday. Photo: Aaron Chown - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The European Commission published a series of contingency measures on Thursday to ensure that basic air and road connectivity are maintained in the increasingly likely event that a free trade agreement is not reached with the U.K. by the end of the Brexit transition period.

Why it matters: It's the surest sign yet that the U.K. is headed for a cliff-edge Brexit on Dec. 31, coming one day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels and failed to make progress on major sticking points.

Updated Dec 6, 2020 - World

EU-U.K. Brexit negotiations back on as deadline looms

Combination images of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Julien Warnand/AFP via Getty Images/John Sibley/PA Images via Getty Images

United Kingdom and European Union negotiators were resuming talks Sunday on a post-Brexit trade deal, which remain deadlocked following "significant divergences."

Why it matters: The U.K. and EU hope to make a deal before the transition period ends on Dec. 31, but differences remain on "three critical issues," officials said Saturday.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 13, 2020 - World

Dominic Cummings is out as Boris Johnson's top aide

Cummings in Downing Street in September. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Dominic Cummings left Downing Street on Friday with a box of possessions, bringing his tumultuous tenure as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top adviser to a sudden end amid a bitter power struggle among Johnson's aides.

Why it matters: Cummings came to national attention as the director of the successful "Vote Leave" Brexit campaign. Since entering Downing Street he's been depicted in somewhat Machiavellian terms — as the power behind Johnson's throne. He also caused a national uproar in May by declining to resign after breaking lockdown rules.

Update: While the BBC reports that Cummings was told to leave Downing Street "with immediate effect," multiple outlets have reported that he'll officially remain in his post until mid-December.

Oct 16, 2020 - World

Boris Johnson says U.K. must prepare for no-deal Brexit

Photo: David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that the U.K. must prepare for a no-deal split from the European Union, unless the bloc offers a "fundamental" change in its negotiations, AP reports.

What he's saying: "As far as I can see they have abandoned the idea of a free trade deal. ... Unless there is a fundamental change of approach we are going to go for the Australia solution," Johnson said, referencing Australia's lack of a substantive trade deal with the EU.

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