Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

October 2011 David Cameron suffered a rebellion by 81 Tory MPs seeking a referendum on EU membership. Although they were easily defeated, the size of the uprising emphasised the scale of the prime minister’s European problem.

January 2013 Mr Cameron capitulated and promised an EU referendum, saying the British people must “have their say” on Europe with an In/Out referendum if the Conservatives won the general election. This would follow a renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the bloc.

Nov 8 2015 The prime minister declared that Britain was no longer “the sick man of Europe” that it was in the 1970s and could continue to thrive outside of the EU. He said that Britain could be successful in or out of Europe and that voters must make a judgment based on the reforms he would secure.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks outside 10 Downing Street in London, Britain February 20, 2016. Cameron said on Saturday he would hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union on June 23. REUTERS/Toby Melville - RTX27SPH
© Reuters

Feb 20 2016 The PM returned from his renegotiation talks, insisting he had secured a string of reforms. He announced at Downing Street that the vote would take place on Thursday June 23. Within hours, Tory ministers divided up into the Leave and Remain camps.

London Mayor Boris Johnson delivers a statement to the media regarding his position on the forthcoming EU referendum outside his home in London on February 21 , 2016 London mayor Boris Johnson on February 21 said he would support a vote for Britain to leave the European Union in a blow for Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of a membership referendum in June. / AFP / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
© Getty

Feb 21 Boris Johnson held an impromptu press conference outside his home in west London. The former London mayor said that “after a huge amount of heartache” he would campaign for Out.

April 13 The Tory-dominated Vote Leave group was announced as the official campaign. That angered the “Grassroots Out” Movement, which had strong links to the UK Independence party.

April 15 The referendum campaign kicked off with campaign events and rallies across the country. In still had a firm lead in the polls.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and U.S. President Barack Obama leave Number 10 Downing Street in central London, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
© Reuters

April 22 In an apparent public relations coup for Mr Cameron, US President Barack Obama issued a direct warning about the dangers of Brexit. Britain would be at the back of the queue for any future trade deal with the US, he claimed.

May 5 Elections were held for the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly despite concerns that the referendum date was too soon afterwards.

May 23 The Treasury issued a dossier highlighting the potential risks to the economy from Brexit, including half a million job losses and a plunge in GDP. The Out campaign accused Chancellor George Osborne of exaggeration and alarmism.

May 27 Purdah started and the usual process of government went into the deep freeze.

epa05341615 Bratain's Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) delivers a speech on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union (EU) in Central London, Britain, 02 June 2016. Britons will vote on whether to remain in or leave the EU in a referendum on 23 June 2016. EPA/WILL OLIVER

June 2 Mr Cameron, who refused to do a face-to-face debate, came in for tough questioning on Sky News. On the same day, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was supposed to be in the Remain camp, said Treasury warnings about an economic downturn following a Leave vote were scaremongering.

June 3 Brexiter Michael Gove struggled to name any business backers for the Out side as he took his turn at being grilled by a Sky News panel.

June 10 After days of the Out campaign gaining strength, a poll by ORB for The Independent gave a 10-point lead for Leave.

epa05366567 Rock musician, Bob Geldof sails with 'Remain' supporters in a counter protest next to a flotilla of fishing trawlers, orgainzed by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, up the river Thames 'Fishing for Leave Flotilla', in London Britain, 15 June 2016. Farage continues to campaign around the UK in the lead up to the EU referendum on 23 June. Britons will vote on whether to remain in or leave the EU in a referendum on 23 June 2016. EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

June 15 Ukip joined fishing boats on the Thames to protest against EU fishing quotas. The stunt turned into a bizarre carnival when In campaigners led by Bob Geldof took to the waters.

Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage poses during a media launch for an EU referendum poster in London, Britain June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
© Reuters

June 16 In the morning, Ukip leader Nigel Farage unveiled an anti-immigration poster with a queue of mostly non-white migrants and refugees with the slogan: “Breaking Point: the EU has failed us all”.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 16: Flowers surround a picture of Jo Cox during a vigil in Parliament Square on June 16, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. Jo Cox, 41, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed by an attacker at her constituicency today in Birstall, England. A man also suffered slight injuries during the attack. Jo Cox was reportedly shot and stabbed while holding her weekly surgery at Birstall Library, Birstall near Leeds and later died. A 52-year old man has been arrested in connection with the crime. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
© Getty Images

June 16 In the afternoon the news emerged of the brutal killing of Jo Cox, a Labour MP. Campaigning was later suspended for several days.

David Dimbleby, Boris Johnson MP, Gisela Stuart MP, Andrea Leadsom MP, Sadiq Khan, Ruth Davidson MSP and Frances O’Grady TUC take part in the BBC Great Debate at the Wembley Arena, London, Britain, June 21, 2016. Jeff Overs/Courtesy of the BBC/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

June 21 The BBC hosted a debate on the referendum to a huge crowd at Wembley Arena. Ruth Davidson, Tory leader in Scotland, impressed commentators with a robust performance for Remain.

Get alerts on Brexit when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Commenting on this article is temporarily unavailable while we migrate to our new comments system.

Note that this only affects articles published before 28th October 2019.

Follow the topics in this article