Great Britain Facts
Britain is known for its many attractions, museums and historic sites.
Official language: English
Currency: British pound (GBP)
Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen needs a passport or identity card as a travel document.
Time difference to Finland: -2
Scotland / United Kingdom is especially known for its castles, which can be found in abundance. Not forgetting, of course, the whiskey distilleries that are definitely worth a tour.
Capital: London / Edinburgh (Scotland)
Official language: English
Currency: British pound
Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen needs a passport or identity card as a travel document.
Time difference to Finland: -2.
Northern Ireland Facts
Northern Ireland (Great Britain):
Official language: English
Currency: British pound (GBP)
Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen needs a passport or identity card as a travel document.
Time difference to Finland: -2
Agriculture and fishing
In 2018, agriculture (including fishing) accounted for 0.6 percent of GDP. But Britain still produced just over 60 percent of the food consumed in the country. Previously, the figure was even higher, but the decrease is largely due to increased demand for exotic and exclusive food products from other countries.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of United Kingdom. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
About 70 percent of the land area is used for agriculture, compared with 81 percent in 1960. The average farm area in England is about 86 hectares. Agriculture is efficiently run and employed more than 1 per cent of the labor force in 2018 (the share is lowest in England and significantly higher in Scotland, 2.5 per cent, Wales 3.5 percent and Northern Ireland, 5.8 per cent). In recent years, it has become more common for peasants or their spouses to work part-time farming and to work alongside others, especially tourism.
The most important crops are cereals, oilseeds, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits and vegetables. Demand for organic products has increased in recent years. Livestock management is also important. For United Kingdom defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.
The so-called mad cow disease (BSE) created great difficulties for many farmers in the 1990s and some way into the 00s. Due to concerns that BSE caused a variant of the human Creutzfeldt-Jakob brain disease, the EU imposed a ban on the export of British beef. At least 175,000 animals were infected and over three million cows were slaughtered so that BSE would not be passed on. In 2005, all restrictions on trade in live animals from the UK were lifted.
EU grants have been important for agriculture and accounted for around 55 percent of farmers’ income on average at the end of the 2010s. It is unclear what the support for farmers will look like when the transition period following the EU exit in January 2020 is over. Fisheries appear to be one of the most sensitive issues during the EU-UK negotiations, which would start in spring 2020, despite the fact that fishing in 2018 was only expected to account for 0.04 percent of GDP. But about 60 percent of the fish caught in British waters is picked up by boats from other countries. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that “British fishing waters should be for British boats”, but the issue is symbolically important to several EU coastal nations engaged in extensive fishing in British waters, not least in the North Sea.
The importance of fishing has decreased in recent years, as a result of increased competition when British waters have been opened to fishing fleets from other EU countries. In order to prevent fishing, the EU has set quotas for how large catches may be admitted. However, this has created problems with fishermen throwing back large quantities of fish in the sea that are too small to be sold and which if taken ashore would mean that they have exceeded their quota. The EU has legislated to prevent this, but it does not appear to have changed so much in practice. EU quotas for a variety of fish, but especially for cod, were significantly lowered at the end of the 2010s.
At the same time, climate change seems to mean that a large part of the cod, in particular, has moved from the southern North Sea to water further north.
In 2018, the British fishing fleet consisted of approximately 6,000 boats and employed nearly 12,000 fishermen. Their catches generated revenue of around £ 1 billion, which had a marginal impact on the economy as a whole, but they are important to many coastal communities. Not least in Scotland, which accounts for 64 percent of fishing in the UK.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
0.6 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
71.7 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of GBR stands for the state of United Kingdom in geography.
Nearly 100,000 British applied for Irish citizenship in 2018
Nearly 100,000 Britons applied for Irish citizenship in 2018. This is about 22 percent more than the year before. Other EU countries, including Germany, have also reported an increase in British citizenship applications.
Proposal for a new immigration policy after Brexit
Interior Minister Sajid Javid presents a proposal for a new immigration policy after Brexit. According to him, the system should encourage people with the knowledge and skills that the UK needs to have the right to work and live in the country. Well-educated people must be sponsored by an employer and earn at least £ 30,000 a year to obtain a visa to work in the country for five years. The ceiling for how many doctors, engineers and others who are allowed to come to the country in one year should be removed. For the unskilled labor or people who are not highly educated, according to the proposal, can obtain a work visa for one year. However, some transitional rules will apply here. But there is also a mechanism in the proposal which meant that people from this group who have worked for a year in the UK have to wait for a year before they can apply again. Visitors from EU countries should not need a visa. Objections come from many directions, from the health care system emphasizing that many well-educated people, including doctors, earn less than £ 30,000 a year. The idea is that the new rules will be introduced step by step from 2021.
The government is preparing for a possible EU exit without an agreement
The British Cabinet, the government’s inner circle, has decided to give the ministries two million pounds to prepare them for the UK leaving the EU without an agreement, including to ensure that food supply works properly. Letters should be sent to 140,000 companies to inform them how to prepare. There are also plans for 3,500 soldiers to be on standby to help if needed. The EU Commission is also making similar preparations, and has decided among other things that air traffic can continue without new rules for a twelve-month period, freight traffic can continue without special new permits for nine months and certain UK rules for the financial market, including derivatives trading, will apply in a or two years.
Corbyn is demanding a vote of no confidence in May’s leadership
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn is demanding a vote of no confidence on Theresa May’s leadership since the prime minister said there could be no vote on the exit deal in the House of Commons until January 14 at the earliest. Corbyn says it is unjustifiable to wait so long with the vote as the country is in a “national crisis”. Corbyn’s mistrustconcerns only May and not the entire government, which means that a vote will only be symbolically important, and according to the Labor leader, a way to press for the vote on Brexit agreements to be held this week already. Other opposition parties such as the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have pressed for Corbyn to direct his mistrust to the entire government, but when he does not, they have filed their own motion.
Mark Drakeford new prime minister in Wales
Wales Prime Minister Carwyn Jones resigns and is succeeded by party mate Mark Drakeford, who the week before was appointed new leader of the Welsh branch of the Labor Party. Upon taking office, he says he wants to stand for “a friendlier policy” that will offer citizens “hope”. The new government that is taking office then consists of eight women and six men.
May wins the vote of no confidence in the Conservative Party
Prime Minister May wins the mistrust of her party friends announced. 200 of the Conservative Party party members vote for her to remain, while 117 vote against her. This means that no new distrust can be directed at her for the next twelve months. Before the vote, May announces that she does not intend to stand for re-election in 2022. At the same time, the People’s Vote is pressing for Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn to issue a declaration of confidence to the Conservative government in the House of Commons to fulfill his promise to try to establish a new referendum on the EU if it is not newly elected.
May sets a Brexit vote
Theresa May decides to postpone the House vote on the Brexit agreement, with the view that it would be voted down. Instead, she will travel to Brussels to see if she can renegotiate the pledges Britain made to the so-called backstop issue in order to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The canceled vote has drawn harsh criticism from both the opposition and parts of the Conservative Party.
EU Court: Britain can unilaterally suspend the Brexit process
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) states that the UK can suspend the exit process from the EU without having to seek permission from other EU countries, if this occurs before the two-year withdrawal period has expired. It may also occur at a later date if the parties have agreed to an extension of the deadline. The Court further decides that the UK can change without changing the terms of membership, that is to say, the British would not have to use the euro as their currency or join the Schengen cooperation. One condition, however, is that the decision is made through a democratic process. The case was raised after Scottish politicians from various parties and a campaign group called the Good Law Projectturned to the court. Both the EU and the UK Government have opposed the issue being raised by the Court, pointing out that Brexit could encourage other countries to try to leave the cooperation in order to improve their conditions.
New May defeats in the lower house
The lower house votes in favor of a motion which states that the government has failed in respect and has failed Parliament when it has not published its entire legal investigation into the Brexit agreement. 311 members vote for the motion 293 against. The Northern Ireland party DUP also votes for the motion, despite the cooperation agreement it has with the Conservative government. The government suffers two more defeats when, among other things, the lower house votes to give Parliament greater influence over the Brexit process if Theresa May’s agreement with the EU is not approved. If the Brexit agreement is not approved, Parliament shall be reassembled within 21 days.
EU leaders approve Brexit agreement
At a summit in Brussels, EU leaders formally approve the exit agreement that the parties have agreed on in negotiations. The agreement also provides some framework for the UK and the EU’s continued relations. Prior to the meeting, the question of Gibraltar had seemed to be able to create problems, but the problems could be resolved when the United Kingdom agreed to give Spain some influence on matters relating to Gibraltar. May is likely to have major problems when the agreement is to be approved in the UK Parliament. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn says his party will vote against the agreement. The DUP intends to do the same, and party leader Arelene Foster emphasizes that a review of the agreement her party has with May’s Conservative government should be made.
The DUP highlights dissatisfaction with the Brexit agreement
20th of November
The DUP shows its dissatisfaction with Theresa May’s preliminary Brexit settlement by casting its votes when the House of Commons decides on a number of changes in the budget for 2019. The party also votes for a change proposed by Labor. Despite this, the government wins the votes.
Ministers resign in protest against Brexit agreement
Prime Minister Theresa May appeared on November 14 to have her government with her regarding the preliminary Brexit agreement. But the day after, four ministers leave the government, Brexit Minister Dominic Raab, Suella Braverman, who served as Minister under Raab, Labor and Pensions Minister Esther McVey and Shailesh Vara, the government’s highest official for Northern Ireland (junior minister). May will present the preliminary settlement for the lower house during the day. Several UK players continue to express their dissatisfaction with the divorce agreement. Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes that the agreement will have a negative impact on employment and reduce interest in investing in Scotland. The preliminary agreementwhich is on 585 pages and states, among other things, how much the UK should pay to the EU, what rights EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in an EU country should have, and that the exit in May 2019 should be followed by a 21-month transition period for the EU acquis to apply, but the UK does not participate in the EU decision-making process, while the parties should negotiate the future UK-EU relations, including a trade agreement. To deal with the sensitive issue of the Northern Ireland border, the UK and the EU should, if a new agreement is not completed in July 2020 six months before the transition period expires, form a temporary customs union (single customs territory) comprising most goods, but not fish products. However, Northern Ireland will be subject to more EU rules than the rest of the UK, which means, among other things, that customs checks will be carried out on some goods being shipped between the British mainland to Northern Ireland and vice versa. If the parties do not agree, the Customs Union will remain until a new settlement is completed. The preliminary agreement also includes a special section where the UK guarantees that the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement is complied with. Stephen Barclay, Minister of Health since January 2018, takes over as Brexit minister after Dominic Raad. Later, the EU presents a proposal for a far-reaching limit for the transitional period: 31 December 2022. The preliminary agreement also includes a special section where the UK guarantees that the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement is complied with. Stephen Barclay, Minister of Health since January 2018, takes over as Brexit minister after Dominic Raad. Later, the EU presents a proposal for a far-reaching limit for the transitional period: 31 December 2022. The preliminary agreement also includes a special section where the UK guarantees that the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement is complied with. Stephen Barclay, Minister of Health since January 2018, takes over as Brexit minister after Dominic Raad. Later, the EU presents a proposal for a far-reaching limit for the transitional period: 31 December 2022.
Preliminary Brexit agreement clear
UK and EU negotiators agree on a preliminary Brexit agreement. But Prime Minister May is facing a difficult task of getting a deal through Parliament. A first step for her to win support within her own government. Brexit supporters within her own party accuse May of surrendering to the EU and threatening to vote no to a settlement. Representatives of the Northern Ireland DUP, whose support the Conservative government is dependent on, also criticize the preliminary settlement and say it could be a first step towards the collapse of the British Union. The message, however, leads to a certain recovery for the British pound which has recently weakened against the euro and the dollar.
Yet another minister leaves the government in protest against Brexit policy
Transport Minister Jo Johnson, brother of former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, leaves his post in government in protest against Brexit policy. Jo Johnson says the deal that is currently being negotiated is a “big mistake”, but he also sees it as a disaster if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Jo Johnson himself voted in 2016 for the UK to remain within the EU, but he now wants a new referendum on whether the British want to approve the agreement that May could possibly get, that the country leaves the EU without an agreement or whether to stay in the cooperation it looks like today.
Police investigation begins against Arron Banks
A police investigation is being launched against the businessman Arron Banks, who was one of the major financiers behind the Leave.EU campaign, about where the money he invested there came from. Eight million pounds should have been donated to the Better for the Country umbrella organization, which includes Leave.EU. The Election Commission has turned to the police to find out if a crime has been committed due to suspicions that the money came from Russia. In the United Kingdom, it is not allowed to fund an election campaign with foreign funds. Banks will, from 2015 onwards, have met with Russian diplomats on several occasions. Further accusations are made, via email leaked to the press, that staff at Bank’s Eldon Insurance and Rock Services companies had carried out work for the campaign from their offices the months before the referendum, which should have been reported to the electoral authorities. If so, Banks has also lied to a parliamentary committee in June 2018.
Easier for non-British to take recruitment
The British defense is easing the rules to find new recruits. This means that the requirement that citizens of Commonwealth countries no longer have to reside in the United Kingdom in order to take up recruitment. According to the authorities, the defense forces would need an additional 8,200 soldiers (in both the army and the air force and the navy). Up to now, exceptions have been made for up to 200 people a year.
Hundreds of thousands of Britons demand a referendum on Brexit agreements
Several hundred thousand people gather on the streets of London to demand a referendum on a possible Brexit agreement. According to the campaign organization People’s Vote (People’s Vote), which organizes the demonstration, says that 700,000 people participate.
Britain and Spain agree on Gibraltar’s role after Brexit
Prime Minister Theresa May and her Spanish colleague Pedro Sánchez agree that they will be able to solve any possible problems between them regarding Gibraltar’s post-Brexit position. A special protocol to be added to the exit agreement should already be clear, and will not pose a problem in the ongoing Brexit negotiations. The two countries are also ending several bilateralGibraltar agreements on taxes, environmental cooperation, cigarette smuggling and the rights of those working in the UK, but they are not part of the Brexit settlement. However, some disputes remain, including around the airport in the territory, which the Spanish government wants Spain and Gibraltar to run jointly, which Gibraltar does not want. The Spanish Government must have given guarantees that it does not intend to take this opportunity to pursue the issue of Spain’s demands on Gibraltar, or to make the lives of those living in and around the territory more difficult.
Argentina protests against British military exercise
Argentina faces a formal protest at the British Embassy in Buenos Aires against British military exercises being held in the Falkland Islands later in October. Argentina made a similar protest in 2016, when the British argued that it was about routine exercise.
100,000 march for Scottish independence
A manifestation of Scottish independence is held in Edinburgh. According to the organizers, about 100,000 people participate. The demonstration will be held the day before the SNP party conference is to start in Glasgow.
New match between Johnson and May at the Tories party conference
The Conservative Party’s conference in Birmingham, at least in the media, becomes a new controversy between former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who still seems to be aiming for the party leader post, and Prime Minister Theresa May. Johnson criticizes May’s Brexit check plan, and promises his own grand variant, which, according to most political analysts, is not rooted in reality. While May emphasizes that her proposal is good for the whole country and that “serious time requires a serious leader”. In her closing speech, she talks about the era of austerity policy being over. The concrete measures she enumerates include that the municipalities will again be able to borrow money to build new rental housing. Several commentators emphasize that the party has taken a step to the right, with English nationalism as a supporting element.
Tough times for Theresa May
Theresa May seems to be getting more and more difficult to get through its draft Brexit agreement. The proposal, named after Checkers, the British Prime Minister’s summer residence where the meeting where the government was clubbed it was held, has not met any enthusiasm from the other EU countries, the ERG, a group that brings together Conservative MPs who oppose the EU, now clearly states that they will not come to support such an agreement in the event of a vote in the lower house. In addition, it looks more and more like Labor will vote against a possible Brexit agreement. Former Conservative Ministers Boris Johnson and David Davis and ERG leader Jacob Rees-Mogg have a few days earlier supported a proposal from the Institute for Economic Affairs, which is based on the UK trying to reach an agreement with the EU similar to that of Canada, but with continued cooperation in defense matters and without any specific solution for Northern Ireland. Johnson has criticized the Checkers proposal, which he believes will force Britain to dance after the EU pipe in “all eternity”. However, analysts point out that Johnson would have just as difficult to get the EU, and especially Ireland, to accept his proposal as Theresa May had with the government.
Labor delegates want a new referendum on the EU
The delegates at the Labor party conference in Liverpool are voting to keep all roads open if a possible Brexit agreement is not approved by Parliament and the party cannot establish a new election. This also applies to a new referendum, where the possibility of remaining within the EU should be one of the alternatives, if Labor is allowed to participate. This is despite the fact that party leader Corbyn does not want a new referendum, but he has said he will respect the party’s will. Within the party, an overwhelming majority of members are in favor of Britain remaining within the EU, but some MPs are worried about how a new referendum would be received in the constituencies where many Labor voters supported a Brexit.
Bors Johnson criticizes May’s Brexit plan
In two articles, former British Secretary of State Boris Johnson strongly criticizes Theresa Mays and the Conservative government’s Brexit plan, which he describes as a disaster for the country. He also accuses the EU of engaging in bullying Britain during the negotiations. There is speculation that Johnson is planning to challenge May over the party leader post, perhaps already at this fall’s party conference. A group called the European Research Group (ERG), which advocates a so-called hard Brexit, had plans to present its proposal for a new agreement before the party conference, but these are shelved by, as it seems according to media reports, differences of opinion within the ERG. ERG is led by the highly conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is identified by some as a possible successor to May.
Salary reduction for members of Northern Ireland’s provincial parliament
Northern Ireland Minister Karen Bradley decides to lower the salaries of members of the Northern Ireland Parliament Stormont from £ 49,500 to £ 35,888. Unless a Northern Ireland government is in place within three months, a further pay cut will be made. The British province has had no government since January 2017. During that time, neither Stormont has met.
Suspects for nervous gas attack are named
British authorities publish photos of and name the two Russians suspected of attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter (see March 2018). The police investigation into the men is also about the poisoning of two Britons in June, one of whom died after coming into contact with the nerve poison novitjok. A European arrest warrant is issued for the men, who, according to British authorities, work for the Russian military intelligence service GRU. Prosecutors say, however, that they should not be requested to be extradited from Russia, since the Russian constitution does not allow them to be disclosed. Both the United States and Canada, Germany and France share the British assessment that the Russian government is likely to have approved the poisoning attempts.
Labor tightens the rules of anti-Semitism
Labor’s executive body adds the entire widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), to the party’s statutes. This occurs after a tearing up conflict within Labor, which among other things was about whether enough is being done to fight anti-Semitism within the March 2018 party. It emerged during the summer that when the party first signed the IHRA into the statutes, in December 2016, not all parts of the definition were included, as the party leadership felt that it could limit the opportunities to criticize Israeli politics. This time, an addition is made that the IHRA should not “affect freedom of expression regarding Israel and the rights of Palestinians”. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has wanted to have a stronger wording, but does not win hearing for it.
The government gives advice on Brexit without agreement
The UK Government publishes a series of papers advising on how different industries should act if the UK leaves the EU without any agreement. In a first series, advice is given to the financial sector, for example, with regard to trade between the UK and the EU, the VAT system, imports of nuclear fuel and pharmaceuticals.
Brexit campaign is fined
The Election Commission states that Vote Leave, the official campaign for Britain to leave the EU, violated the rules on the amount of campaign grants it received before the 2016 referendum. The campaign exceeded the allowable budget limit by at least half a million pounds. This was done through collaboration with another group, BeLeave. Vote Leave is sentenced to pay £ 61,000 in fines for refusing to cooperate with the Election Commission’s investigators. Current Environment Minister Michael Gove and former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson were among the campaign’s top names. Previously, another, unofficial organization, Leave.EU, with Nigel Farage as the poster name, has also been fined for violating the electoral law. Leave.EU received a large portion of its money from Arron Banks, which has also financed a large part of Ukip’s operations. More recently, attention has been directed to Banks and Farage’s contacts with both Russia and Donald Trump’s election campaign.
More dropouts due to Brexit
The disagreement over Prime Minister May’s strategy in the Brexit negotiations continues to cause high-level drop-offs when MPs Brad Bradley and Maria Caulfield announce that they are also resigning. Both hold vice-chair positions in the Conservative Party. Like the ministers who jumped off a few days earlier, they believe that May’s negotiating line involves close relations with the EU (see also July 9).
Raab and Hunt replace Davis and Johnson
Deputy Housing Minister Dominic Raab is appointed new Brexit minister after David Davis resigns. Raab was a lawyer before making a career in the Conservative Party where he has made himself known as a strong Brexit advocate. The post of Foreign Minister goes to Jeremy Hunt, who thus leaves the post of Minister of Health. In the 2016 referendum, Hunt voted for Britain to remain in the EU but now supports a UK exit.
Ministers jump off in protest against Brexit plan
Just before midnight, Brexit Minister David Davis announces that he is leaving his post. Davis’s example is followed by one of his deputy ministers. The following day, Monday 9 July, Boris Johnson will also resign. Both Davis and Johnson state as reasons that they no longer support Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposal for a line in the Brexit negotiations with the EU, a line that Ministers agreed on as late as a meeting on Friday, June 6. May’s proposal means a continued but limited customs union with the EU after Brexit. Customs cooperation shall apply only to the trade in goods with the possibility of certain exceptions from the British side. The purpose is to ensure that the manufacturing industry has access to the inputs it needs. The service sector is not included. The proposal restricts the free movement of labor but advocates a new regulatory framework that will allow EU citizens to study and work in the UK and vice versa. Both Davis and Johnson want to see a stronger break with the EU. In connection with his departure, Davis says that May’s proposal means that London “gives away too much for ease”. His habit of faithfulness expresses Johnson more drastically. In his farewell letter, Johnson writes that May’s proposal means “the death of the dream of Brexit” and that it gives Britain “colonial status” in relation to the EU.
The British-Irish Council will try to resolve the crisis in Northern Ireland
The governments of London and Dublin agree to convene a British-Irish Cooperation Council until July 25. The Council which came into being as part of the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement to try to resolve any disputes. It has not been held since 2007. The meeting is convened on the initiative of the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland nationalist parties Sinn Féin and the SDLP. The purpose is to try to establish a new provincial government in Northern Ireland.
Nuclear weapons mandate is extended
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is given expanded powers: in the future, OPCW will not only analyze the suspected use of chemical weapons but also identify the forces that made use of the poisons. A British proposal is adopted by 84 votes to 24 when the organization’s member countries are gathered for a special session. Russia, which regularly protests when accusations are made against the Assad regime, describes OPCW as “a sinking Titanic”. Behind the British proposal are not only nuclear weapons attacks in Syria and Iraq, but also the attacks with nerve poisoning against a Russian former spy on British soil and against a North Korea in Malaysia.
“Brexit becomes at least £ 10 billion more expensive”
A parliamentary committee says in a report that the government’s calculations of how much Brexit will cost the British state are not correct. In the negotiations, the UK has agreed with the EU to pay between £ 35 and £ 37 billion over the next few decades, but the Committee now claims that in practice costs will be at least £ 10 billion higher.
Demand for a referendum on Brexit agreements
About 100,000 demonstrates in London demanding that the British get a referendum on a Brexit agreement. The protest was mainly EU-friendly politicians from the Liberal Democrats and Labor, but also some conservative politicians. A smaller counter-demonstration is held on the same day. Airbus manufacturer Airbus has warned that it is considering moving its operations from the UK. Airbus has 14,000 employees in the country.
May wins important vote in the lower house
May wins a vote in the lower house, where a small majority of the members support the government’s proposal and thus reject the amendments to the so-called exit law that the upper house has wanted (319 members vote for the government and 303 vote against). Several EU-friendly Conservative members support the government’s proposal after vague promises that Parliament will have a “meaningful role” in the ongoing process. One of them, Dominic Grieve, had previously pressed for Parliament to prevent Britain from leaving the EU without an agreement on what the future relations should look like. Six of May’s party mates still vote no, while four Labor members vote yes and six Labor members cast their votes. Later, the upper house also gives its approval.
The upper house changes in the exit law
The upper house goes once again against the government and is voting for a new amendment to the exit law, which will allow Britain’s assortment from the EU. This means that the law is once again sent back to the lower house.
SNP protest against Brexit policy
The Scottish Nationalist Party’s (SNP) group leader in the British lower house, Ian Blackford, comes into conflict with the Speaker when he persists in wanting an in-depth debate on how Scotland is affected by Brexit and more specifically the proposed exit law. Blackford accuses London of wanting to gain more power. This leads to Blackford being forced to leave the House, which he does together with all SNP MPs.
May wins important Brexit polls in the lower house
Theresa May wins two important votes in the lower house, with a majority of members voting against the House of Commons’s amendment that the UK should remain within the EU Customs Union. 298 members voted for the amendment and 325 voted against. The figures are even clearer to the government’s advantage when the House of Commons votes on whether the British should remain in the EU internal market (European Economic Area, EEA). 327 members voted against the amendment and 126 voted in favor. This happens since several Labor members choose to vote with the government, instead of casting their votes as party leader Jeremy Corbyn advocated. May manages to avert a possible defeat by promising increased transparency in the government’s efforts to reach a settlement with the EU on the customs issue.
Minister resigns in protest against Brexit policy
Phillip Lee, minister responsible for crime victims, youth and family law, leaves the government in protest against Brexit policy which he believes will be for but for those living in his constituency. It happens on the same day that the lower house debates the changes that the upper house has implemented in, among other things, the exit law. He says via twitter that he wants to see a referendum on a Brexit agreement.
HD says no to change Northern Ireland’s abortion law
The Supreme Court ruled that in some cases Northern Ireland’s abortion legislation – when the fetus is gravely malformed or where the pregnancy is a result of sexual violence – is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, but adds that the right has no formal right to request that it be amended. The seven judges did not agree with the ruling. The case was raised by the court following an appeal from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC).
Requirements for May to amend Northern Ireland’s abortion legislation
After a clear majority of Irish voters voted to lift Ireland’s ban on abortion, attention is being directed to Northern Ireland. Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, the Labor Party but also several of Theresa May’s conservative party mates, urges the British Prime Minister to liberalize the strict Northern Ireland abortion legislation, where abortion is only permitted if the mother’s life or mental health is in danger. May has the opportunity to do so now, since there has been no Northern Ireland government for over a year. But the British government is unlikely to do anything now that risks the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). DUP leader Arlene Foster emphasizes that the issue of abortion should be decided by the political representatives in Northern Ireland and not those sitting in Parliament in London.
Boris Johnson visits Argentina
Foreign Minister Boris Johnson visits Argentina. It is the first time in 25 years that a British Foreign Minister is visiting the country, and is seen as yet another sign that relations between the UK and Argentina have improved after the Argentinian change of power in 2015, after many years of tensions over the issue around the Falkland Islands.
The Scottish Parliament votes against the exit law
15th of May
The Scottish Parliament votes against the so-called exit law ahead of the EU exit. 93 members reject the law and 30 vote for it. The objections to the law are that the Scottish Government believes that London is gaining too much power at Scotland’s expense when powers are to be taken home from Brussels after the Brexit.
Leave.EU fined for violation of electoral law
The Leave.EU campaign group is fined by the Election Commission for spending more money than allowed before the referendum on British EU membership. Leave.EU should not have reported costs that were over £ 77,000 and are now forced to pay £ 70,000 in fines. In addition, the Election Commission has asked the police to investigate what they call “serious wrongdoing”. Arron Banks, one of the founders of Leave.EU believes that the whole process is politically motivated. Leave.EU was an initiative alongside the official campaign group Vote Leave.
Britain, France and Germany adhere to Iran agreements
Prime Minister Theresa May, together with France’s Emanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel, regrets the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran. At the same time, they stated, in a joint statement, that the agreement is still important for “our common security”.
Better than expected for the Tories in English local elections
The Conservative Party (Tories) are doing better than expected in the English local elections. Above all, the party wins votes in the areas where voters voted for Brexit. That’s because, to some extent, the Conservatives have taken votes from Ukip, which has lost voter support in almost every district. Labor, for the same reason, is also increasing its voting share in many places, but is not achieving the success that several observers had predicted, not even in London. The party still wins 77 new seats compared to the 2014 local elections and gains the power of 74 municipal and city councils as many as before. The Conservative party loses 33 council seats and loses power in two municipalities, but still reigns in 46. The Liberal Democrats also make a decent election and get 75 new seats and take power in 9 municipalities, 4 more than before. Ukip receives 3 seats compared to 126 in 2014.
New defeats for the government in the upper house
The upper house again goes against the government and votes to give the lower house the right to block or delay a Brexit. The upper house wants to give the lower house the right to send the ministers back to the negotiating table or even cancel the Brexit process altogether. The decision, which was taken with 335 votes in favor and 224 against, is expected. A few days later, another defeat for May’s government follows, as the House of Commons votes for the House of Commons to have the right to stop a Brexit election, which means that a “hard” border is established between Northern Ireland and Ireland (309 votes in favor and 242 against). It is the tenth time in a short time that May is hit by setbacks in the higher chamber. However, its decision can be overturned by the lower house.
Interior Minister Amber Rudd resigns
Interior Minister Amber Rudd resigns as a result of the so-called Windrush scandal. It comes after allegations that she was lying in the lower house when she denied that there are any clearly stated targets for how many illegal immigrants should be deported from the UK. Rudd himself now says that she inadvertently provided incorrect information. Rudd’s departure is another tough blow to Theresa May, who has already lost several of her most loyal ministers. However, several sensitive decisions were already made during Theresa May’s time as Minister of the Interior. Rudd is replaced by Sajid Javid. He is launching a review of how Caribbean immigrants in the so-called Windrush generation may have been hit by the tougher line the authorities have taken against people illegally located in the UK.
Another setback for May in the upper house
Prime Minister May suffers yet another defeat in the House of Commons which rejects the government’s plans not to include the political, economic and social rights contained in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in British law before leaving the UK. The next setback in the upper house comes a few days later and concerns the government’s proposal to give ministers the power to change legislation after the EU exit. According to the amendment which is approved with clear voting numbers, ministers may only amend the laws if it is “necessary”, previously it was “appropriate” in the bill.
Carwyn Jones plans to retire in 2018
Carwyn Jones, Prime Minister of Wales, announces that he plans to leave his post later this year to make room for a fresh start for the Welsh Government. At the end of 2017, a Welsh minister committed suicide after being suspended from work following allegations of sexual harassment.
May defeat in the upper house
The government suffers a defeat in the upper house voting for an amendment to the so-called exit law (348 members vote for the amendment and 225 against) which means that the ministers have until the end of October to explain what measures they have taken to enable the UK to remain within the EU Customs Union. This also supports 24 members of the Conservative Party. The upper house also opposes the government and approves an amendment that restricts the ministers’ right to change legislation without Parliament’s approval.
May defends bomb attack in Syria
Prime Minister May defends the decision that Britain should take part in the bombing of facilities in Syria where the Assad regime is said to be manufacturing chemical weapons. It takes place during a six-hour debate in the lower house, which is held on the initiative of Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn. She emphasizes that it was important to act quickly and that the government could therefore not wait for approval from the lower house, something that Corbyn criticized harshly, or the UN. Corbyn warns that this could create a dangerous precedent for the future. Several members who supported May’s decision to bomb also express frustration that Parliament has not been asked in advance.
Immigrants from the Caribbean risk being expelled after more than 50 years in the UK
Thousands of people from Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean who came to Britain, the so-called Windrush generation, between 1948 and 1971, according to a law of 1971, was allowed to stay in the country indefinitely (this rule did not include those who later moved to the UK). Most of those affected came to Britain as children and many of them lacked their own passports but were enrolled in their parents. In 2012, when Theresa May, Minister of the Interior, introduced checks on foreign workers to find illegal immigrants. Employers and landlords are then requested to carry out checks, and those who do not run the risk of imprisonment or imprisonment. But this has also affected people of the Windrush generation, who, despite living in the country for many years, have not been able to prove that they have the right to do so. Media is now reporting on several people who have been trapped, who have been forced to quit their jobs, become homeless, have lost their right to health care and other social benefits and have been confined to special migration centers. In addition, some may have already been expelled, but the Ministry of the Interior lacks documentation on this. It later emerges that the Ministry of the Interior in 2010 destroyed an old register of those who came from the Caribbean during these years. It is unclear how many people are at risk of being affected, but according to some media, it is about 50,000 people. 100,000 names have been raised demanding that these persons be granted amnesty, and 140 MEPs have signed a petition urging the government to resolve the crisis. Prime Minister May and Amber Rudd, who succeeded May as Home Minister, later apologize and promise to assist those affected.
Gerard Batten new Ukip leader
Gerard Batten, Member of the European Parliament, becomes new leader of Ukip. He has temporarily led the party since February, when Representative Henry Bolton was forced to resign.
Britain participates in bomb attack against Syria
Following allegations that chemical weapons were used in the Syrian city of Duma in eastern Ghuta, Britain, along with the United States and France, is launching a bomb attack on facilities near Damascus and Homs in Syria where the regime is said to be manufacturing chemical weapons. Theresa May wins support for this at her cabinet. Representatives of the government say it is likely that the Assad regime is behind the nuclear attack. The opposition criticizes that the lower house was not asked for the attack. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn calls for a legislative change that will prevent the government from acting in the future without Parliament’s support. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has registered 390 cases where it is suspected that chemical weapons have been used in Syria since 2014.
OPCW confirms that Russian nerve poison was used in attempted murder
The Chemical Prohibition Organization (OPCW) confirms that the novitjok nerve poison was used in the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia. The Russian Foreign Minister says that Russia will not accept the result unless access to a sample of the substance is obtained. Julia Skripal has now recovered so much that she has been able to leave the hospital, while her father is still seriously ill.
Russian diplomats are expelled from the US and the EU nerve poison attack
The crackdown on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia at the beginning of March also led the United States and some 20 other countries, mainly within the EU, to expel a total of about 100 Russian diplomats in a solidarity document with Britain, which pointed out Russia to be behind the deed. Moscow denies all involvement in the poison attack and threatens with countermeasures. A few days later, Russia orders the UK to send home another 50 employees at the Moscow embassy. Moscow also requires an official explanation as to why a Russian passenger plane was searched in London. Julia Skripal is discharged from hospital in April, and the same month it is announced that the state of Sergei Skripal is no longer critical.
Corbyn apologizes for Labor’s anti-Semitism
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and Deputy Party leader Tom Watson apologize for the pain caused by the “pockets of anti-Semitism” found within the Labor Party. Corbyn also says that he renounces all forms of anti-Semitism and does not tolerate the existence of the labor movement. The statement comes after a period when Labor received sharp criticism, among other things The campaign against anti-Semitism, and various organizations that bring together British Jews (the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews) for not acting quickly enough to deal with the problems that exist. Attention is also directed to a Facebook post made by Corbyn in 2012 questioning the decision to remove a controversial mural in East London. The Labor leader now dismisses the statement and says it was the right decision to remove it.
British analysis company in windy weather
British analytics company Cambridge Analytica is suspected of having collected personal data from 50 million Facebook users without permission, and then used this information to influence voters in both the US election and the UK EU vote. The British Data Inspectorate is now conducting a house search in the company’s London office. Facebook is criticized for not acting until now despite the US company being reported to have known that Cambridge Analyticas had already breached its security rules in 2015. Another company affiliated with Cambridge Analytica is also accused of receiving £ 625,000 from campaign organization Vote Leave, who wanted the UK to leave the EU, and thus may have broken the rules on how much money it was allowed to spend on the campaign.
Success in the Brexit negotiations
The UK and the EU have agreed that the transitional period after Brexit should extend until the end of 2020. During that period, EU citizens moving to the UK and Britons moving to an EU country will be subject to the same rules as before Brexit. The UK will also have the right to negotiate, conclude and sign new trade agreements during the transitional period, but will, until 2021, be subject to EU trade agreements with other countries. Northern Ireland will remain in the common market and the EU Customs Union until a new solution is found, which may cause problems for the May government at home, not least in relation to the Northern Ireland DUP. It is also stated that EU fishing quotas will remain during the transitional period, causing dissatisfaction in Scotland.
Parliamentarians demand new and tough laws against air pollution
The UK needs to tighten legislation to improve the air quality in the country and criticizes the government for not taking part in addressing the problems. It establishes four parliamentary committees in a joint report. They also want the phasing out of vehicles fueled with gasoline and diesel to be accelerated (now there is a time limit until 2040). The United Kingdom is one of nine countries that violate the rules of an EU directive on reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions. As it is today, about 40,000 people die a day as a result of air pollution, the report further states.
Britain expels 23 Russian diplomats
14th of March
As Russia did not respond to May’s questions about how the novitjok nerve poison, used in the assassination attempts of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, could end up in the UK, the British Prime Minister announces plans to expel 23 Russian diplomats (they will have one week for to leave the country). The British Government also intends to suspend all bilateralhigh-level contacts, increasing the control of private flights and goods coming from Russia. Also, no British royals or ministers will visit the Moscow World Cup this summer. The British line towards Russia is supported by both Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and NATO, the German and American governments. Initially, French President Emmanuel Macron takes a more cautious stance. The UK is also taking up assassination attempts at the UN Security Council, accusing Russia of violating the Chemical Weapons Ban Convention. Russia continues to deny all involvement in the assassination attempts. Russia later announces that 23 British diplomats will be expelled from the country. The British Consulate in St. Petersburg may also strike again, as will the British Council in Moscow.
May demands response from Russia on poison attack
the 13th of March
The attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia in Salisbury in southern England at the beginning of March create tensions between the UK and Russia. Both are believed to have been poisoned by Russian nerve poison, novitjok, and a British policeman who rescued them have also been affected. Prime Minister May demands that by midnight March 13, the Russian government should explain how the poison was found in Salisbury (if Russia was not behind the assassination attempts, it means that Russian authorities do not have full control over the poison). Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasizes that Moscow is not in any way involved in what has happened. He also states that he has requested that Russian authorities have access to the poison in order to investigate, but that he has been denied this. Skripal is a former Russian intelligence officer who was jailed for handing over information to the British military intelligence service MI6. He came to Britain as part of a spy exchange between Russia and the United States.
Get news in May’s Brexit
Prime Minister Theresa May keeps a line on Brexit, reiterating that the British intend to leave both the common market and the EU Customs Union, while striking a compromise tone earlier than before. She emphasizes that both parties will gain from successfully negotiating good negotiation solutions, not least with regard to financial services, which she wishes to become part of a trade agreement. May also stressed that after the Brexit, the United Kingdom wants to continue to cooperate on medicines, chemicals, aviation safety and nuclear power.
“Threats from right-wing groups increase”
The threat from right-wing extremist groups is increasing in the UK, according to Mark Rowley, outgoing chief of the police’s anti-terrorist unit. Police say they have revealed plans for four assaults planned by right-wing extremists, and ten “Islamist-inspired” since March 2017.
Labor wants the UK to remain in the EU Customs Union
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn advocates for Britain to remain in the EU Customs Union after Brexit. That, he believes, will solve the problems with the Northern Ireland-Ireland border. This is a turnaround on Corbyn’s side, and could pave the way for a defeat of this for Theresa May in the House of Commons (if Labor manages to do a joint thing with EU-friendly Conservative MPs). At the same time, Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon rejects the British government’s proposal on how the power to be returned to Britain after the EU exit should be distributed between London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. David Lidington, Minister for the British Council of Ministers, has proposed, among other things, that issues such as food hygiene and food labeling should be handled from London. As it is today, Scotland is responsible for agriculture, fishing, environmental issues, food control, justice and health. Later, the Scottish publishes its own alternative to exit teams (The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill). A similar initiative comes from the Welsh Government. The UK government must have a deal ready with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this summer, when the lower house will vote on the exit law.
May is being pressured by conservative EU skeptics
The European Research Group (ERG), which brings together more than 60 Conservative MPs, writes to Prime Minister May and calls for Britain to break fully with the EU through the Brexit. It also calls for the British to start negotiating new trade agreements with other countries during the transitional period after the British left the Union, and that it is important for the UK to control what new laws are enacted from its exit date in March 2019. Critics criticize Theresa May for being too weak in dealing with the EU skeptics within their own party, not least the ERG whose members are called mogglodytes in the Guardian magazine, after the group’s chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg. Prime Minister May has announced that she will present the UK’s proposals on how EU cooperation will be forthcoming in the coming week.
The talks about the Northern Irish government are failing
Attempts to establish a new provincial government in Northern Ireland fail once again, despite the fact that both Prime Minister Theresa May and her Irish colleague Leo Varadkar traveled to Belfast to participate in the talks. The big question seems to be a law, the Irish Language Act, which would strengthen the Irish language’s position in Northern Ireland, which is symbolically important for Catholic nationalists, but which is at the same time unpopular among many Protestant unionists. Another sensitive issue is the DUP’s resistance to same-sex marriage and the DUP has also blocked money that would have gone into investigating murders committed during the conflict. Both sides accuse the other party of the failure.
Mary Lou McDonald becomes new leader of Sinn Fein
Mary Lou McDonald is elected new leader of Sinn Fein, after Gerry Adams, who has been in the post for 35 years. Michelle O’Neill is simultaneously appointed Deputy Party Leader. McDonald, who has no personal experience of the violence in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, promises to work for a referendum on a united Ireland. O’Neill is the party’s chief representative in Northern Ireland, while McDonald is in the Irish Parliament.
The criticism of May is growing within the Tory Party
30th of January
The dissatisfaction with Prime Minister May rages among several factions within her own Tory party. Criticism is being addressed, for example, against Brexit policy, where the Conservative government is accused of pursuing an over-diluted line. Parts of the resistance are led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who heads about 60 European skeptic party mates within the European Research Group. May, however, declares that she intends to remain as prime minister.
The EU clarifies its requirements ahead of the post-Brexit era
Ahead of the next round of Brexit negotiations, the EU presents its guidelines on what cooperation between the UK and the Union should look like during the transitional period following the UK exit in March 2019. The EU wants the UK to continue to follow EU rules, including those who are introduced after Brexit but have no influence over the decision-making process. Nor should the UK be able to conclude any new international agreements without EU approval. The EU also emphasizes that work on solving the problems around the Northern Ireland-Ireland border must continue. British Brexit Minister David Davis, for his part, wants there to be a way to solve problems that arise when the EU decides on new laws. However, the EU rejects all the idea that the UK should be able to veto new legislation. At the same time, data leaked from a government document showing that the country’s economy will be hit hard by Brexit, regardless of whether the UK concludes a free trade agreement with the EU, will continue to have access to the internal market or exit without any agreement at all. According to the analysis, gross national income (GNI) will be between 2 and 8 percent lower over a 15-year period than if the United Kingdom had remained within the Union. May, however, seems prepared to fight the issue of free movement of labor, saying (1 February) that EU citizens should not be able to count on being able to freely settle in the UK during the transitional period. will continue to have access to the internal market or if exit occurs without any agreement at all. According to the analysis, gross national income (GNI) will be between 2 and 8 percent lower over a 15-year period than if the United Kingdom had remained within the Union. May, however, seems prepared to fight the issue of free movement of labor, saying (1 February) that EU citizens should not be able to count on being able to freely settle in the UK during the transitional period. will continue to have access to the internal market or if exit occurs without any agreement at all. According to the analysis, gross national income (GNI) will be between 2 and 8 percent lower over a 15-year period than if the United Kingdom had remained within the Union. May, however, seems prepared to fight the issue of free movement of labor, saying (1 February) that EU citizens should not be able to count on being able to freely settle in the UK during the transitional period.
Republican paramilitary group announces ceasefire
Republican group Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) announces ceasefire. ONH says in a statement that the situation in the province is such that it is not suitable for an armed conflict. In 2010, the group was behind an attempted murder of a police officer (he lost both his legs), and the paramilitary group has also undertaken to place a large explosive charge outside a Londonderry / Derry police station. Several IRA shooters must have joined ONH and contributed knowledge of bomb making.
The United Kingdom and France agree on border cooperation
At President Macron’s first state visit to the UK, he agrees with British Prime Minister Theresa May on further cooperation around the common border. The United Kingdom and France decide to stick to a 15-year-old border agreement, which allows countries to carry out immigration checks in the border area. At the same time, the countries are entering into a new agreement that France, with the UK paying an additional € 50 million, should strengthen surveillance and security at Calais and other port cities to prevent refugees from trying to enter the UK illegally. Britain will also be allowed to borrow the famous medieval so-called Bayeux wallpaper in 2022, which shows William the Conqueror’s invasion of England 1066.
New calls in Northern Ireland
New Northern Ireland Minister Karen Bradley announces that new talks to establish a new provincial government will start on January 24. Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney stands by her side as she gives the message. Both ministers stress that a new government must come into place as soon as possible. It is also clear that Mary Lou McDonald will replace Gerry Adams as leader of Sinn Fein. She will be appointed at a special party convention on February 10, where she is the only candidate for the party leader post.
New minister will counter loneliness and social isolation
Theresa May appoints a new minister, Tracey Crouch, who is tasked with combating problems such as loneliness and social isolation. Studies indicate that around 9 million Britons suffer from this, which also affects their health. The idea comes from Labor politician Jo Cox who was murdered shortly before the 2016 EU vote.
No government support package for construction giant
Construction giant Carillon goes bankrupt. The company has debts of over £ 2 billion. Carillon has several public assignments, including the construction of a high-speed rail link between London and Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, but also has operations in schools, hospitals and prisons, among others. The state is forced to go in with support money to maintain this service. The bankruptcy is expected to have serious consequences for Carillon’s many subcontractors, especially as the construction company has outsourced so much of its work to contracting. Labor questions why the government has put out a contract worth £ 1.3 billion on Carillon, despite knowing the company was having financial problems. The opposition and unions have pushed for the government not to go in with tax money to save the debt-burdened company.
Farage wants a second referendum on the EU
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, who had prominent roles in the campaigns ahead of the 2016 referendum, now advocate that the British people be allowed to vote on Brexit. The aim, according to them, is to prevent the government from concluding an overly soft settlement with the EU. However, the opinion polls presented in the British press indicate that just over half of voters would choose to remain in the EU, while 41 percent support a Brexit. The shift is largely due to voters who now support continued UK EU membership and did not vote at all in 2016.
May re-furnishes in the government
Theresa May is conducting a minor refurbishment of her government. However, no major changes are made to the heavier positions in the government. Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis becomes new chairman of the Conservative Party. David Lidington takes over after Damien Green, but does not get the title of First Secretary of State. Earlier in the day, Northern Ireland Minister James Brokenshire announced that he was retiring for health reasons. He is replaced by former Culture Minister Karen Bradley. Minister of Education Justine Greening refuses to become Minister of Labor and Pensions. That task goes to Esther McVey instead. Greening leaves government Damian Hinds becomes new Minister of Education. The severely criticized Health Minister Jeremy Hunt remains and is also given responsibility for social care. The redevelopment leads to more women.