The year 2019 has certainly been an eventful one for the UK, a year dominated by Brexit, climate change, Prince Andrew, and vegan sausage rolls. As the year draws to a close, I decided to create a timeline of 70 events which I think defined the UK in 2019. As you might expect, Brexit related events feature frequently along the timeline, but they are interspersed by other key events which caught my eye throughout the year. If I have missed any obvious ones let me know!
15 Jan 2019
MPs reject Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement
MPs voted overwhelmingly to reject Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement by 432 votes to 202. With a majority against of 230, this represented the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.
17 Jan 2019
Prince Philip is involved in a car crash near Sandringham estate
The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a car crash while driving near Sandringham estate. Prince Philip was not injured in the accident, but two women in the other car involved required hospital treatment. They were later discharged.
21 Jan 2019
Emiliano Sala goes missing while on a flight from Nantes to Cardiff
The Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala was on board a plane travelling from France to Wales, but it lost contact off Alderney in the Channel Islands. Rescuers said there was "no hope" of finding Emiliano Sala alive.
04 Feb 2019
The aircraft carrying Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson is discovered in the English Channel
The wreckage of the aircraft carrying Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson was discovered by private investigators on the seabed of the English Channel using sonar and a remotely operated underwater vehicle.
14 Feb 2019
MPs vote down Theresa May's Brexit plans in Parliament vote
MPs voted to reject a motion to endorse the government’s Brexit strategy by 303 votes to 258. The European Research Group (ERG) abstained from backing the motion because to do so would have endorsed ruling out a no deal Brexit.
15 Feb 2019
Thousands of school pupils go on strike to demand action on climate change
Thousands of pupils walked out of schools across the UK to demand immediate government action on climate change amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to take active steps to tackle global warming and protect the environment.
18 Feb 2019
Seven MPs resign from the Labour Party to form The Independent Group
MPs Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker quit the Labour Party and formed The Independent Group. Labour MP Joan Ryan and Conservative MPs Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Anna Soubry quit their respective parties and joined The Independent Group shortly afterwards.
20 Feb 2019
Shamima Begum is stripped of her UK citizenship
A decision was taken by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to deprive teenager Shamima Begum of her UK citizenship as a result of her decision to leave the UK and join Islamic State in Syria.
12 Mar 2019
MPs reject Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement for a second time
MPs voted to reject Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement for a second time by 391 votes to 242. All but three Labour MPs, the European Research Group (ERG), and remain supporting Tories walked through the no lobby to defeat her Brexit deal.
14 Mar 2019
MPs vote in favour of delaying Brexit beyond 29 March
MPs overwhelmingly voted for Theresa May to ask the EU for an extension Article 50 by 412 votes to 202, which would delay the UK’s withdrawal from the EU beyond 29 March.
15 Mar 2019
Thousands of school pupils go on strike for a second time to demand action on climate change
Students from across the UK took to the streets again in a global movement to demand action on climate change. The movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg after she sat outside the Swedish Parliament every Friday in protest at government inaction.
20 Mar 2019
Theresa May writes to Donald Tusk to request an extension of Article 50 to 30 June
Theresa May made her first formal request for an extension to the Brexit deadline by writing to Donald Tusk requesting an extension to Article 50 to 30 June.
23 Mar 2019
Hundreds of thousands of protestors march through London for a people's vote
Hundreds of thousands of people marched through central London calling for a second referendum on any Brexit deal. Organisers claimed that more than a million people joined the march, but there was no independent verification of the number in attendance.
27 Mar 2019
MPs vote down all eight Brexit options in a series of indicative votes
None of the eight proposed Brexit options were backed by MPs in a series of indicative votes in the House of Commons. These options included a customs union with the EU, a referendum on any deal, and revoking Article 50.
29 Mar 2019
MPs reject Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement for a third time
MPs voted to reject Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement for a third time by 344 votes to 286. The Prime Minister said that the outcome was "a matter of profound regret" and added "I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House".
05 Apr 2019
Theresa May writes to Donald Tusk again to request an extension of Article 50 to 30 June
In light of the decision taken in the House of Commons to decline the approval of the government’s Brexit withdrawal agreement for a third time, Theresa May wrote another letter to Donald Tusk requesting an extension of Article 50 to 30 June.
10 Apr 2019
The UK and the EU agree an extension of Article 50 to 31 October
EU leaders at the European Council meeting on 10 April agreed to extend Article 50 to 31 October, delaying Brexit for a second time. At a news conference held shortly after the meeting, Donald Tusk warned the UK "please don't waste this time".
11 Apr 2019
Julian Assange is arrested after seven years of living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London
After 2,487 days in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange was arrested and forcibly dragged out from the building after his political asylum was revoked by Ecuador. He faced extradition to the United States and up to five years in prison.
12 Apr 2019
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage launches the Brexit Party
Ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage launched his new Brexit Party in response to the extension of Article 50 to 31 October, meaning that the UK would have to hold European Parliament elections on 23 May.
15 Apr 2019
Extinction Rebellion cause major disruption in central London
Thousands of people blocked a number of prominent landmarks in central London as part of a global campaign organised by climate change activist group Extinction rebellion, which brought widespread disruption to the capital.
18 Apr 2019
Journalist Lyra McKee is shot dead during Derry rioting
Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead whilst observing rioting in Londonderry’s Creggan estate. A group known as the New IRA later admitted carrying out the murder and offered "full and sincere apologies" to her family and friends.
02 May 2019
The UK votes in the local elections
The Conservative Party suffered a huge defeat in the local elections, losing 1,334 councillors and 44 councils. Labour lost 82 councillors and 6 councils. The pro-EU Liberal Democrats and the Green Party made significant gains, 703 seats and 194 seats respectively.
06 May 2019
The Duchess of Sussex gives birth to a son
The Duchess of Sussex gave birth to a son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, at the private Portland Hospital in Westminster. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced the news via a picture of the words "It's a boy!" on their official Instagram account.
13 May 2019
The Jeremy Kyle Show is axed by ITV following the death of a guest
ITV took the decision to axe The Jeremy Kyle Show after 14 years following the death of a guest, Steve Dymond, who took a lie detector test on the show. Following the announcement, a committee of MPs launched an inquiry into the support offered to guests on reality TV shows.
18 May 2019
The UK finishes in last place in the Eurovision Song Contest
The UK's Eurovision entry Michael Rice, with the song "Bigger Than Us", finished in last place with 11 points. Michael Rice had originally scored 16 points, but the 13 points he was given by the juries was reduced to 8 due to human error.
22 May 2019
Andrea Leadsom resigns as Leader of the House of Commons
In Andrea Leadsom's resignation letter which she published on Twitter, she said that she had previously accepted "some uncomfortable compromises" over Brexit, but continued "I no longer believe our approach will deliver on the referendum result".
23 May 2019
The UK votes in the European Parliament election
It's was another bad election for both the Conservatives and Labour, losing 15 and 10 MEPs respectively. The Brexit Party elected 29 MEPs, the Liberal Democrats 16 MEPs, the Green Party 7 MEPs, the Scottish National Party 3 MEPs, and Plaid Cymru, Sinn Féin, the Democratic Unionist Party, and the Alliance Party elected an MEP each.
24 May 2019
Theresa May announces her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party
Theresa May announced that she would officially resign as leader of the Conservative Party on 7 June, and the contest to replace her should begin the following week. In an emotional statement outside Number 10, she said she had done her best to deliver Brexit and it was a matter of "deep regret" that she had been unable to do so.
03 Jun 2019
Donald Trump begins a three day state visit to the UK
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump made a state visit to the UK from 3 to 5 June. Thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators gathered in central London to protest his arrival, and an inflatable caricature of Donald Trump was flown over Parliament Square.
07 Jun 2019
Theresa May officially resigns as leader of the Conservative Party
Theresa May officially handed in her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party to the 1922 Committee on 7 June, but she remained as Prime Minister until her successor, Boris Johnson, was elected as the new party leader on 23 July.
10 Jun 2019
BBC confirms plans to make over 75s pay the TV licence fee
The BBC confirmed plans to make the majority of over 75s pay the £154.50 a year licence fee from June 2020. The BBC argued that it was the only way to avoid closing channels and making substantial cutbacks.
27 Jun 2019
The UK becomes the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law
The UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
14 Jul 2019
England win the Cricket World Cup for the first time
England won the World Cup for the first time ever at Lord's after tying with New Zealand on 241 each after their 50 overs. They both scored 15 in the super over, but England won thanks to hitting more boundaries in their 50 overs.
22 Jul 2019
Jo Swinson is elected leader of the Liberal Democrats
Jo Swinson won with 47,997 votes compared to 28,021 obtained by Ed Davey to be elected leader of the Liberal Democrats and the first women to hold the role. After the result was announced, she called on MPs from other parties to join her in taking on "nationalism and populism" and to stop Brexit.
23 Jul 2019
Boris Johnson is elected leader of the Conservative Party and becomes Prime Minister
Boris Johnson won with 92,153 votes compared to 46,656 obtained by Jeremy Hunt to be elected leader of the Conservative party and Britain’s 77th Prime Minister. In his victory speech, he promised he would "deliver Brexit, unite the country, and defeat Jeremy Corbyn".
25 Jul 2019
The UK experiences its hottest day on record with a temperature of 38.7°C
The Met Office confirmed that the UK's highest ever temperature of 38.7°C was recorded in Cambridge University Botanic Garden on 25 July. National temperature records were also broken in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands in the same month.
01 Aug 2019
Residents of Whaley Bridge are evacuated due to damage to Toddbrook Reservoir
About 1,500 residents were evacuated from their homes in Whaley Bridge after the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir was damaged during heavy rain. Emergency services worked day and night to repair the dam wall and lower the water to a safe level.
09 Aug 2019
The UK economy contracts by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2019
According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK economy shrank by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2019, largely as a result of the uncertainty caused by the Brexit impasse.
27 Aug 2019
Bury Football Club are expelled from the English Football League
After Bury Football Club failed to secure new ownership before the deadline of 17:00 on 27 August, the EFL expelled the club from the football league after 125 of membership.
28 Aug 2019
The Queen approves Boris Johnson's request to prorogue Parliament until 14 October
Boris Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament from the second week of September until a Queen’s Speech on 14 October was approved by the Queen. This move received widespread condemnation from pro-EU supporters, triggering protests in London and throughout the UK.
03 Sep 2019
MPs opposed to a no deal Brexit take control of House of Commons business
MPs in the House of Commons voted for the amendment with a majority of 27, allowing them to take control of the order paper to stop a no deal Brexit. Shortly after the vote, Boris Johnson accused Parliament of being "on the brink of wrecking any deal".
04 Sep 2019
MPs pass the Benn Act to prevent a no deal Brexit on 31 October
Opposition MPs and Tory rebels ensured the Benn Act passed by 327 votes to 299. The act would force Boris Johnson to ask for a Brexit extension beyond 31 October deadline if a deal had not been agreed with the EU.
06 Sep 2019
A legal challenge to the prorogation of Parliament is rejected by the High Court
The High Court rejected a legal challenge by campaigner Gina Miller against the government's decision to prorogue Parliament. The ruling would later be appealed to the Supreme Court on 17 September.
07 Sep 2019
Amber Rudd resigns from Boris Johnson's cabinet and quits the Conservative Party
In a letter to Boris Johnson, she said "I joined your cabinet in good faith, accepting that no deal had to be on the table" but added "I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government’s main objective".
09 Sep 2019
John Bercow announces that he will stand down as Speaker of the House of Commons
John Bercow said he would stand down as the House of Commons speaker and MP for Buckingham at the next general election or on 31 October, whichever came first. He said his 10 year tenure as speaker was nearing its end and it had been the "greatest honour and privilege" to serve.
10 Sep 2019
Parliament is prorogued amid protests from opposition MPs in the House of Commons
A five week prorogation of Parliament commenced on 10th September, with MPs not due back until 14 October, amid unprecedented scenes in the House of Commons. Some MPs gathered round the speaker John Bercow and held up signs saying "silenced" whilst shouting "shame on you".
11 Sep 2019
A legal challenge to the prorogation of Parliament succeeds in Scotland's highest civil court
The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that Boris Johnson's prorogation of Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Shortly after the ruling, MPs demanded an immediate recall of Parliament. The ruling would be appealed by the government to the Supreme Court.
20 Sep 2019
Climate change protests take place in towns and cities across the UK
The UK Student Climate Network planned over 200 protests across the UK on 20 September. Organisers claimed that roughly 300,000 people participated in strikes across the UK, with 100,000 people attending a rally in London where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech.
23 Sep 2019
Travel company Thomas Cook collapses after 178 years in business
After last minute negotiations to save the 178 year old holiday firm collapsed, the UK Civil Aviation Authority announced that Thomas Cook had "ceased trading with immediate effect". This also triggered the biggest ever peacetime repatriation to bring more than 150,000 British holidaymakers home.
24 Sep 2019
The Supreme Court rules unanimously that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful
11 justices from the UK’s highest court unanimously ruled that the government’s decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. Lady Hale, the president of the Supreme Court, said "this court has…concluded that the Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void, and of no effect".
25 Sep 2019
MPs return to Parliament after the ending of prorogation
After returning to Parliament, opposition MPs, amid furious scenes in the House of Commons, accused Boris Johnson of using inflammatory language, specifically his description of the Benn Act as the "Surrender Act". Speaker John Bercow described the atmosphere as "toxic".
02 Oct 2019
Boris Johnson puts forward his Brexit plan to the EU
Boris Johnson published his new Brexit proposal for the first time, which replaced the Irish backstop with a special relationship between Northern Ireland and the EU for four years.
14 Oct 2019
Extinction Rebellion protests are banned across London by the Metropolitan Police
The Metropolitan Police issued a London-wide ban on the climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion, as they moved in almost without warning to clear protesters who remained at the movement’s camp in Trafalgar Square.
17 Oct 2019
The UK and EU agree a new Brexit withdrawal agreement
The UK and EU reached a deal on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. However, Boris Johnson was still left with the uphill task of getting his deal through Parliament, not least because the DUP were opposed to it.
19 Oct 2019
Hundreds of thousands of protestors march through London for a people's vote
Hundreds of thousands of people marched through central London again, calling for a final say on any Brexit deal. The march took place on the same day as MPs met in the House of Commons for a historic parliamentary session.
19 Oct 2019
MPs pass the Letwin amendment and prevent a vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal
Instead of backing Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, MPs dealt him a massive blow by passing an amendment led by Oliver Letwin by 322 votes to 306, which would trigger the Benn Act and force Boris Johnson to request a Brexit extension, something he said he would never do.
19 Oct 2019
Boris Johnson writes to Donald Tusk to request an extension of Article 50
Boris Johnson reluctantly sent an unsigned letter to Donald Tusk requesting a further Brexit delay beyond 31 October. He also sent an accompanying letter arguing against it which he signed.
22 Oct 2019
Abortion is decriminalised for women in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland reversed a law dating back to 1861 and decriminalised abortion, allowing women to legally access abortion care in this region of the UK for the first time without having to travel over the Irish Sea to Britain.
22 Oct 2019
MPs reject Boris Johnson's timetable for approving his Brexit withdrawal agreement
MPs voted to back Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, but within minutes they voted against the timetable to get the bill through the House of Commons within three days, resulting in Boris Johnson pulling his deal off the agenda.
23 Oct 2019
39 bodies are found in lorry container in Essex
A murder investigation was launched after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry on an industrial estate in Essex. 25 year old Mo Robinson from Northern Ireland was arrested on suspicion of murder and later pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to conspiring with others to assist illegal immigration.
28 Oct 2019
The UK and the EU agree an extension of Article 50 to 31 January 2020
Leaders from the 27 EU member states agreed unanimously to the UK's request to extend Article 50 until 31 January 2020. The agreement was reached after French President Emmanuel Macron removed his initial objection to granting the extension.
29 Oct 2019
MPs vote in favour of a general election scheduled for 12 December
After repeated calls by Boris Johnson for a pre-Christmas general election and unrelenting pressure on Jeremy Corbyn, the House of Commons eventually approved legislation by a margin of 438 votes to 20 for the first December general election since 1923.
04 Nov 2019
Sir Lindsay Hoyle is elected Speaker of the House
The Labour MP for Chorley and Deputy Speaker at the time, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, was elected by secret ballot as the 158th Speaker of the House of Commons.
06 Nov 2019
Extinction Rebellion wins a High Court challenge against the Metropolitan Police
Extinction Rebellion won a legal challenge against the Metropolitan Police over a London-wide ban on its protests. The High Court judges ruled that the ban was unlawful and found that police had no power to impose it under the law.
16 Nov 2019
Prince Andrew denies having sex with Virginia Roberts
In his widely criticised TV interview with Emily Maitlis, Prince Andrew denied having sex with Virginia Roberts when she was a teenager and expressed regret at having met the convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2010.
28 Nov 2019
David Duckenfield is found not guilty of manslaughter in the Hillsborough disaster trial
The former South Yorkshire police chief superintendent David Duckenfield was found not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter more than 30 years after the FA Cup semi final match at Hillsborough in 1989 between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, where 96 people died.
29 Nov 2019
A mass stabbing at London Bridge results in two dead and three injured
28 year old Usman Khan went on a stabbing spree near London Bridge whilst wearing a hoax explosive vest, killing two and wounding three others before he was shot and killed by police.
12 Dec 2019
The Conservative Party wins a majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons
The Conservative Party secured its best election result since 1987, winning 365 parliamentary seats and a majority of 80. Outside Number 10, Boris Johnson said that Brexit was now the "irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people".
13 Dec 2019
Jo Swinson resigns as leader of the Liberal Democrats after losing her seat
After losing her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP by 149 votes, having only regained the seat in 2017, Jo Swinson resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats.
20 Dec 2019
MPs vote in favour of Boris Johnson's Brexit withdrawal agreement
MPs voted to back Boris Johnson’s deal for the UK to leave the EU on 31 January 2020 by 358 votes to 234. The Prime Minister said the country was now "one step closer to getting Brexit done".