“Out of nowhere British voters strike back. But against what, exactly?”

It gave the world a new word form (Brexit, Frexit, Megixt etc.), which for a while was adapted for other countries within the European Union whenever voter dissatisfaction appeared to rise. Exiting, or dissolution was, for a while, apparently all the rage.

That possible super-crisis didn't last long, however, leaving Brexit, years after the United Kingdom EU referendum result, to stand alone in international popular culture.

In the United Kingdom, Brexit tore apart politics and relationships. It disrupted the economy (though not as much as some feared) and shone a light on the reality of British society. Brexit also shook the EU as a structure, as well as a liberal idea.

Its historical reach will only be revealed (slightly inevitably) as the years and associated events pass, and once we can all finally stop talking (and bickering) about Brexit.


From unity to dissent


Surprise! How Brexit showed everything had changed, even if the political elite did not quite notice it had done so at the time.

Existential: It quickly became the word of Brexit, but what does it mean? And how did Brexit become such an existential crisis?


David Cameron

British Prime Minister between 2010 (as the head of a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats) and 2015 until his resignation from office following the UK EU referendum result in 2016.

Cameron leads the 2016 Remain referendum campaign, calling for Great Britain to remain a member of the EU, based on a settlement he negotiates with it. A personal defeat and an exit from office follow.

Theresa May

Long-serving British Home Secretary and (slightly elusive) Remain campaigner during the 2016 UK EU referendum campaign. May goes on to become Prime Minister, following the resignation of David Cameron, on a mission to take the UK out of the EU with a compromise deal.

The first part of this is a Withdrawal Agreement, which nobody likes much, but comes back (sort of) under Boris Johnson's leadership. A closer post-Brexit closer union with the EU is never realised under May's leadership.

John Bercow

Controversial and provocative (to Leave supporters), though also iconic (to Remain supporters) Speaker of the House of Commons post-Brexit.

Bercow assumes a crucial role in the struggle between Leave and Remain supporters in the UK House of Commons, as well as in the international media, accumulating a growing amount of power in British politics during the struggle over Brexit until the Johnson premiership the UK general election of 2019. Not seen in the UK media since Johnson assumed his premiership.

Gina Miller

Guyanese-British business owner, activist and liberal media darling, Miller starts the 2016 'R v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union' court case against the British government questioning its authority to implement Brexit without Parliamentary approval.

Further legal action(s) follow, as Miller becomes a 'lawfare' champion in the battle between Leave and Remain. Not seen in the UK media since Johnson assumed his premiership.

Boris Johnson

Conservative & Unionist Party MP before the UK EU referendum (and then in the Leave campaign after a short period of initial hesitation), Johnson serves as Foreign Secretary under Theresa May and then as Prime Minister.

Johnson also dedicates himself to leaving the EU with or without a deal (and to saving the Conservative & Unionist Party in the process). The man who could, etc. until Covid-19 arrives and his popularity then collapses.

Nigel Farage

Leader of UKIP, during which time he grows the party into a formidable political force, then leader of the Brexit Party, Farage proves himself to be a combative and energising political campaigner and an inspiration to those voters looking for an alternative to the political status quo.

A thorn in the side of David Cameron, Theresa May, the EU and the BBC (amongst many others) and a darling of GB News. Love him or loathe him, etc.