UK. The increasingly overwhelming issue for the UK during the year was the referendum on EU membership. The first half of the year was dominated by unrest, the second half of the consequences.
Although the opinion swung before the election, few had believed in the outcome. In January, 54% said they wanted to remain in the EU, while 36% wanted to leave the Union. At the beginning of May, the picture had changed slightly: 47% wanted to stay, while 39% wanted to leave. According to countryaah, the current population of United Kingdom is 67,886,022. A few days before the elections, 45% wanted to remain in the Union, while 42% wanted to leave the EU. It is noteworthy that 10-15% of the voters had not decided.
The result of the June 23 election sent shockwaves across Europe, since it was clear on the morning of June 24 that the leave proponents had won by 51.9% against the stay page’s 48.1%. The turnout was relatively high: 72.2%. A total of 17.4 million voted for leaving the EU (“Brexit”), while 16.1 million wanted to remain. In Scotland and Northern Ireland a large majority wanted to remain in the EU, while the English and Wales wanted to leave the Union. In the British territory of Gibraltar, 95.9% voted for continued membership. The election result also divided the generations: 75% of voters in the 18-24 age group voted for the EU, while nearly 60% of those over 65 preferred to leave the EU.
Both in Northern Ireland and Scotland, independence thoughts came to life after the referendum. Already in March, Northern Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McGuinness said that if Britain leaves the EU he wants a referendum on a unity with Ireland, and in Scotland Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it might be time for a new referendum to leave the British Union, this time to secure membership in the EU. In the last Scottish independence election 2014, 53% wanted to remain in the British Community and in the June elections, 62% wanted to remain in the EU.
The protests against the currency exit did not wait. A name gathering with more than 4 million signatures demanded a new referendum in mid-July and that the government would annul the election results as it was supported by less than 60% of a population in which less than 75% had participated. There were suspicions early on that non-Brits were also included in the name collection by stating British addresses. The Guardian magazine also stated that, for example, 39,000 residents of the Vatican City (with 800 residents) had written on the list.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the 3-letter abbreviation of GBR stands for the nation of United Kingdom in geography.
The day after the election, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would step down but remain until a successor as party leader in the Conservative Party and thus also prime minister was appointed. London’s mayor and EU opponent Boris Johnson emerged early in the year as a suitable candidate (at least he thought so himself) if EU friend Cameron lost. But there were other candidates: Justice Minister Michael Gove, Deputy Andrea Leadsom and Home Secretary Theresa May. Both Johnson and Gove disappeared early in the fight; there remained Leadsom and May. However, Andrea Leadsom announced July 11 that she did not intend to run for candidacy but gave her full support to Theresa May. On July 13, May was formally appointed Prime Minister. In the newly formed government, Boris Johnson would emerge as Foreign Minister and Andrea Leadsom as Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Michael Gove was fired as Minister of Justice.
It was not only David Cameron who resigned after the election. On July 4, the party leader of the EU hostile and right-wing populist UKIP Nigel Farage announced that he would step down after his “political ambition has been achieved”. In September, 56-year-old European Parliamentarian Diane James was elected leader of the party, a post she came to hold for just 18 days. Farage had to take over the helm again, and it wasn’t until late November that he was able to retire. November 28 Paul Nuttal was appointed UKIP party leader.
Demand for resignation also received Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn following the EU vote. However, because of his strong anchorage of grass roots in the party, he succeeded and was re-elected on September 24 with almost 62% of the vote.
In April, in connection with the publication of the so-called Panama documents, it was revealed that Prime Minister Cameron also had assets in tax havens. In Cameron’s case, it was a legacy from the father of the equivalent of just over SEK 3 million that was invested in an offshore fund.
The mayoral election in London was won in early May by Labour’s candidate, the EU-friendly Sadiq Khan, who defeated EU opponent Zac Goldsmith of Tory. Khan becomes the first Muslim mayor of the British capital.
A tragic event occurred a week before the election. On June 16, the 41-year-old two-year-old mother and Labor politician Jo Cox was murdered by a right-wing extremist who shot and stabbed her in connection with an election in Birstall outside Leeds. The campaign work before the EU vote was therefore suspended for a few days.
On July 20, according to thereligionfaqs, Theresa May announced that the UK would resign from the EU Presidency in the second half of 2017. The reason was inappropriate to have a President who is in the process of leaving the Union.
After the referendum, the pound had plunged to recover somewhat later. But in early October, the UK currency plummeted to its lowest level since 1985. The reason is believed to be Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of the formal EU withdrawal schedule: negotiations begin at the end of March 2017. October 4 slipped the pound down to SEK 10.95. Despite Brexit, economic forecasts looked good: GDP growth of 2.0% for 2016 and 1.4% for 2017.
On April 21, Queen Elizabeth II turned 90 years old. The Londoners celebrated with tea and cake. According to a new survey, 76% of the population are royalists. But it wasn’t until June that the really big celebration took place when, among other things, rock singer Rod Stewart was honored.
In October, government members were banned from wearing the digital watch Apple Watch in connection with government cabinet meetings. The reason is a growing concern for hackers to intercept the meetings. Smart mobiles have been banned in the past.
The government announced October 20 that it should pardon the thousands of gay men who were convicted of what is no longer criminal: committing homosexual acts. Such acts were banned in England and Wales for men over the age of 21 until 1967. It was not until 1980 and 1982 that the law in Scotland and Northern Ireland was abolished. The pardons are called Turing’s Law, after the researcher Alan Turing who was sentenced in 1952 and posthumously pardoned in 2013.
A severe tram accident occurred in Croydon in south London in November. At least seven people died and about 50 were injured when the tram overturned in far too high speeds.
Danish toy manufacturer LEGO announced in November that it no longer intends to advertise in the daily newspaper Daily Mail. This since the Stop Funding Hate campaign called on several toy companies not to favor a newspaper accusing them of spreading “hatred, discrimination and demonization”. The Daily Mail has been accused, among other things, of writing too negatively about migrants.