BREXIT TIMELINE 2020
– January 8 2020
New European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen visits No 10 to warn Mr Johnson the timetable for a post-Brexit trade deal is “very, very tight”. The Prime Minister is clear however there will be no extension to the transition period, which expires at the end of 2020.
– January 9 2020
Mr Johnson gets his Brexit deal through the Commons as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is given a third reading with a majority of 99.
– January 31 2020
A clock projected on the walls of Downing Street counts down the moments to the UK’s departure from the EU at 11pm.
– March 2 2020
Mr Barnier and Mr Johnson’s chief EU adviser Lord Frost open formal talks in Brussels on Britain’s future relationship with the bloc, including a free trade agreement.
– March 12 2020
The two sides announce they are suspending face-to-face talks due to the coronavirus pandemic and will explore the options for continuing the negotiations by video conferencing.
– June 12 2020
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove formally tells the EU the UK will not sign up to an extension to the transition period, but he backtracks on plans to immediately introduce full border checks with the bloc on January 1.
– September 10 2020
The European Commission threatens the UK with legal action after ministers announce plans for legislation enabling them to override provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland in breach of international law.
– October 16 2020
Mr Johnson says he is halting talks on a trade deal, accusing EU leaders meeting for a summit in Brussels of seeking to impose “unacceptable” demands.
– November 7 2020
Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen agree to “redouble” their efforts to get a deal while acknowledging that significant differences remain over fisheries and the so-called “level playing field” for state aid rules.
-December 4 2020
Lord Frost and Mr Barnier announce in a joint statement the conditions for an agreement had still not been met and negotiations will be put on “pause” to allow political leaders to take stock, with Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen to engage in emergency talks.
– December 9 2020
Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen dine at the European Commission, with talks between the two leaders lasting around three hours and ending in an agreement to have further discussions, but that a “firm decision” should be taken about the future of the talks by Sunday.
– December 13 2020
Following a phone call, Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen agree to another extension of talks to “go the extra mile” to find a breakthrough. Mr Johnson says there is a “deal to be done” with the EU but adds the two sides are “very far apart” on key issues and Britain is still ready to trade on WTO terms in the new year.
– December 17 2020
The Prime Minister and European Commission president talk on the phone again to take stock of the discussions, just hours after Mr Gove tells MPs the chances of a deal were “less than 50%”.
The two sides both say progress has been made but there are still “fundamental” differences, with fisheries again a sticking point. Mr Johnson describes the continuing negotiations as being in a “serious situation”, adding an agreement was not likely, with time “very short”.
– December 20 2020
France joins several other European countries in banning travel from the UK, including freight, due to a new coronavirus strain found in Britain, causing the Port of Dover to close. Huge queues of lorries build up on the M20, prompting fears the same could happen in the event of no trade deal being secured.
– December 21 2020
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says there is no chance of extending the transition arrangements beyond December 31 because it would “add fuel to the fire” by adding extra uncertainty.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson updates the country on the travel ban and reveals he has spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron to try to find a resolution, but that they “decided not to speak about Brexit”.
– December 22 2020
An agreement is reached with France to reopen the border, allowing lorry drivers through if they have had a negative Covid test. Mr Barnier briefs EU ambassadors and MEPs and tells them talks are at a “crucial moment”, while Mr Johnson remains in “close contact” with Mrs von der Leyen.
– December 23 2020
Optimism grows throughout the day a deal is about to reached and a Downing Street source says it is “possible, but far from certain”.