Brexit, a portmanteau of “Britain” and “exit,” is the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). It followed the referendum of June 2016 when 51.9 percent of those who voted supported the withdrawal. Withdrawal has been advocated by Eurosceptics, both left-wing and right-wing, while Pro-Europeanists or the European Unionists, who also are in the political spectrum, have advocated continued membership. The UK joined the European Communities (EC) in 1973 under the Conservative government of Edward Heath, with continued membership that was endorsed by a referendum in 1975. In the 1970s and 1980s, withdrawal from European Communities was supported mainly by the political left, with the Labour Party’s 1983 election manifesto supporting complete withdrawal. In the late 1980s, opposition to the development of the EC into an increasingly political union grew on the right, with Margaret Thatcher – despite being a key proponent of the European single market – becoming increasingly ambivalent towards Europe. From the 1990s, opposition towards further European integration came from the right, and divisions within the Conservative Party led to a rebellion over the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. In November 2018, the Draft Withdrawal Agreement and Outline Political Declaration, settlement of an agreement between the UK Government and the EU, was published.
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