In a referendum held on 23 June 2016 the electorate were asked ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’ A majority of 51.9% of the UK electorate voted to leave with 48.1% voting to remain. Following the result the UK began the formal process of exiting the European Union. 

Britain is the first country of the 28 Member States to leave the EU in its 59 year history. 

CIPR 2018 Monthly Brexit Reports

Struggling to keep up-to-date with the ever changing Brexit landscape? The CIPR publishes monthly reports summarising the key developments related to Brexit together with links and details of what to watch out for next.

 Brexit Scenario Planning

In the first half of 2018, the CIPR hosted two master classes to explore the consequences of Brexit for the public relations practice. Below are summary reports for each of the session:

Read the 'Brexit Scenario  Planning - session 1' report (opens as PDF)

Read the 'Brexit Scenario Planning - session 2' report (opens as PDF)

Briefing Notes

Chequers Deal - UK government Brexit position - July 2018 (opens as PDF)

Future Relationship Between UK and EU White Paper - July 2018 (opens as PDF)

Implications for the PR Industry

Download CIPR's 'Brexit and Public Relation in 2018' report (opens as PDF)

It is important to note that, as the negotiation strategy and much of the intended deal the Government hope to achieve has not been disclosed, any analysis at this stage is speculative.

There are several implications, amongst many that may arise, for you and your business to consider including:

  • The ability to employ individuals from Europe due to the impending changes in EU citizenship and freedom of movement that is likely to take place;
  • The ability to open a business within an EU Member State and the regulatory framework that will come into effect 
  • Lobbying and access to MEPs, Commission officials and the EU court will change. This is especially relevant to those who run businesses on the continent and how they will function within the EU framework 
  • Applicability of EU copyright and other communications laws. This is very much dependent on how the UK will superimpose EU law into UK law, which regulations will be maintained with UK law, and how this will affect the relationship with the devolved governments.


Prior to the vote

  • April 14th 2015 – The Conservative Party Manifesto is launched for the 2015 General Election. This includes a commitment to “hold an in-out referendum on our membership of the EU before the end of 2017.”
  • December 17th 2015 – The European Referendum Act receives Royal Assent allowing for the holding of a referendum on question of the UK’s membership of the EU.
  • February 22nd 2016 – June 23rd 2016 is confirmed as the date of the referendum by Prime Minister David Cameron.

The vote and the aftermath

  • June 23rd 2016: The referendum is held.
  • June 24th 2016: Following the result Prime Minister David Cameron, who backed remain in the EU, announces his intention to resign.
  • July 13th 2016: Theresa May is announced as the new UK Prime Minister.
  • February 2nd 2017: The Government publishes its strategy for exiting the EU in its Brexit White Paper.
  • March 29th 2017: Prime Minister Theresa May formally begins the process of leaving the European Union by triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
  • March 30th 2017: The Government publishes the Great Repeal Bill White Paper bringing existing EU legislation into domestic UK law to later be amended, repealed and improved where necessary.
  • April 18th 2017: The Prime Minister calls a General Election to be held on June 8th

General Election to Present

  • June 8th 2017: The General Election results in a hung Parliament. As the Party with the most seats the Conservatives form a government.
  • June 19th 2017: The first round of UK-EU exit negotiations begin.
  • July 13th 2017: The Government introduces the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, otherwise referred to as the ‘Great Repeal Bill’.
  • September 22nd 2017: Theresa May delivers her key Brexit speech in Florence and sets out the UK’s position on moving the Brexit talks forward.
  • June 2018: The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill passes through Parliament.
  • July 2018: The UK outline their proposed post-Brexit relationship with the EU in paper. See CIPR Briefing Note here.

Future Dates

  • Late 2018 – The House of Commons and the House of Lords will have a ‘deal or no deal’ vote on whether to accept the final deal before it goes before the European Parliament to vote on.
  • March 29th 2019 – The date the UK is set to leave the European Union


Article 50

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union was inserted into the European Union (EU) Treaty by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. It allows a Member State to leave the EU and sets out a procedure for doing so.


Brexit is the abbreviation for ‘British exit’ from the EU. It is used in the media and by commentators and experts on the subject of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

  • Hard Brexit

A situation in which the UK leaves the EU swiftly and most likely would involve resorting to WTO rules.

  • Soft Brexit

A situation in which the UK leaves the EU but negotiates continued membership of the European Economic Area (EEA).

  • Smooth Brexit

An orderly, negotiated, prepared Brexit.

Customs Union

A form of trade agreement between two or more countries who decide not to impose tariffs (taxes on imports) on each other’s goods and agree to impose common external tariffs on goods from countries outside their customs union. This means goods can travel freely within the EU’s customs union without border checks and members cannot reach their own bilateral trade agreements.

Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU)

The UK Government department responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the EU and establishing the future relationship between the UK and EU.

Economic Free Trade Association (EFTA)

There are some states within the EU Single Market that are not actually members of the European Union but are part of a smaller club of nations called the Economic Free Trade Association. These countries must comply with the rules of the Single Market although there are some exceptions.

European Commission

An institution of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU.

European Council

The Council defines the EU’s overall political direction and priorities and sets the EU’s policy agenda.

European Economic Area (EEA)  

The area in which the EU’s single market operates the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital. It comprises 30 signatories, including the 27 member states of the EU.

European Parliament

The EU’s law-making body which is elected by EU voters every 5 years. It has three main roles which are legislative, supervisory and budgetary.

Exiting the European Union Committee

Appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Exiting the European Union and matters falling within the responsibilities of associated public bodies.

Four freedoms

The free, unlimited movement of goods, services, capital and people between all member states. Member states must comply with these in order to be a member of the Single Market.

Freedom of movement

One of the founding principles of the EU, freedom of movement allows citizens of the European Union to move to, live in, and in certain circumstances access the welfare system of the EU country to which they have moved.

Free trade agreements (FTAs)

FTAs are agreements between separate nations or trade blocs to reduce trade barriers and increase trade. A free trade area is a group of countries that have few or no price controls in the form of tariffs or quotas between each other.

The ‘Great Repeal Bill’

The Bill will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and convert EU law into domestic law “wherever practical”. The Government has indicated that these legal changes within the Bill would take effect the day the UK officially leaves the EU.

Right to Remain

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or permanent residency (PR) is an immigration status granted to a person who does not hold the right of abode in the United Kingdom, but who has been admitted to the UK without any time limit on his or her stay and who is free to take up employment or study, without restriction.

Single Market

A single market is a trade bloc without any internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services. The European Single Market seeks to guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. It comprises all members of the EEA, plus Switzerland through a series of bilateral agreements.

Single Market Access

The terms on which countries outside the single market can  trade with it. Some countries have favourable access to the European single market through a free trade agreement (FTA).

Single Market Membership

This means being part of EU’s single market with free movement of goods, finance, and people around the EU, without any tariffs.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a global international organization of 162 members dealing with the rules of trade between nations. It is made up of the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.

WTO Rules

If the UK cannot agree a new trading relationship by the end of the 2-year Article 50 process for the UK leaving the EU, and no extension is granted, the UK would drop automatically out of the EU and revert to WTO rules. Under WTO rules, each member must grant the same “most favoured nation” (MFN) market access to all other WTO members significantly increase the costs of UK-EU trade.

Who’s Who


Theresa May

The British Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party who took over both positions from David Cameron following his resignation after the result of the referendum.

Stephen Barclay

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union as of November 2018.

Dominic Raab

The former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union from July 2018 to november 2018.

David Davis

The former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and the man tasked with the job of negotiating with the EU on behalf of the UK.

Boris Johnson

The former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and prominent supporter of leaving the European Union during the referendum campaign.

Ollie Robbins

The Prime Minister's Europe Advisor for 10 Downing Street since September 2017 and former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union from July 2016 to September 2017.

Sir Tim Barrow

The UK’s Ambassador to the European Union with the title of Permanent Representative to the European Union.

Sarah Healey

Director General at the Department for Exiting the European Union

Dr Liam Fox

Secretary of State for International Trade

Philip Rycroft

Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU


Michel Barnier

The EU Chief Brexit Negotiator.

Sabine Weyand

European Commission Deputy Chief Brexit Negotiator.

Donald Tusk

President of the European Council.

Jean-Claude Juncker

President of the European Commission.

Martin Selmayr

Juncker’s chief of staff.

Guy Verhofstadt

Lead Rapporteur for the EU Parliament tasked with representing the European Parliament throughout negotiations.

Didier Seeuws

Chief Negotiator EU Council Special Taskforce.

Cecilia Malmström

European Commissioner for Trade who will be negotiating the UK’s future trade deal with the EU.