Political leaders, maverick Leave campaigners and those involved in Brexit negotiations, who have been entrusted to steer the good ship Brexit through stormy waters: our departure from the EU is as much about the individuals who are shaping Britain’s future as the issues that got us here in the first place.
So, who are key players in the Brexit saga? Those people who have been responsible for the entire timeline so far – from the announcement of the referendum and the commencement of the campaign period to the ongoing Brexit negotiations process. It’s these individuals that have overseen the pound’s decline since 23 June 2016 (Brexit vote), and many of them will determine its future value as 29 March 2019 (Brexit day) approaches.
To help us understand exactly what Brexit means for the UK and the pound, let’s see where some of these key players fit into the timeline, before exploring their role in the process and the Brexit negotiations.
Key players Brexit timeline
- 19 February 2016: David Cameron announces the EU referendum vote will take place on 23 June.
- 20 February 2016: Boris Johnson declares his support for the Leave campaign, joining longstanding Eurosceptic Nigel Farage.
- 23 June 2016: UK votes in favour of leaving the EU. Mr Cameron resigns immediately as Prime Minister.
- 13 July 2016: Theresa May replaces David Cameron as Prime Minister.
- 29 March 2017: Mrs May triggers Article 50, kickstarting the process.
- 26 June 2017: formal Brexit negotiations begin between the UK and the EU, with David Davis appointed UK Brexit Secretary and Michel Barnier named as The European Commission’s chief negotiator – supported by Jean-Claude Juncker (president of the European Commission) and Donald Tusk (president of the European Council).
- 6 July 2018: the government sets out its “common rulebook” – Chequers plan – for Britain and the EU.
- 9 July 2018: David Davis resigns over Chequers plan trade proposals. Dominic Raab immediately promoted from housing minister to take over from Mr Davis in Brexit negotiations.
Brexit negotiations: key players
David Cameron – former UK Prime Minister
Former Prime Minister David Cameron is the man who promised and delivered a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Politicians don’t have form for honouring promises they make to the public, and Mr Cameron was left wishing he hadn’t bucked the trend. Having pinned his colours to the Remain mast, his strategy of spooking the public with prophecies of economic doom backfired and Brexit became a reality. His subsequent departure was swift and self-imposed.
Nigel Farage – former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP)
The Brexit vote was the culmination of 20 years of anti-EU campaigning for Nigel Farage. If David Cameron is the man who put the referendum wheels in motion, former UKIP leader Mr Farage is the man who paved the road to Brexit in the first place. Having already won 26% of the vote in the 2014 European elections, his hostility towards the EU and concern over immigration drew even more support when it counted. When UKIP was founded in 1993, Brexit was considered a cranky obsession. Fast-forward 13 years and Mr Farage had done more than anyone to make it happen.
Boris Johnson – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Once the referendum was confirmed, the Leave campaign needed a heavyweight champion to fight its corner. And that’s exactly what it got when Tory cabinet minister Boris Johnson donned his gloves to back Brexit. With his mop of blonde hair and reputation for headline-grabbing antics, Mr Johnson proved a formidable – and often entertaining – presence during the campaign. While Mr Cameron was delivering his doom and gloom rhetoric, Boris persuasively communicated the potential benefits of Brexit. The rest is history!
Theresa May – UK’s Prime Minister
Leaderless and lacking direction, the UK was desperate for someone to fill the void left by David Cameron; a Prime Minister who could guide the nation into the unknown and negotiate the best Brexit deal possible. Up stepped Theresa May who has had a torrid time so far – from calling a general election that destroyed her majority to having her Brexit plan rejected by the EU, making a no deal Brexit a possibility. To her credit, she remains in power but with much still unresolved – not least the border with Ireland – the road to Brexit remains an uncertain one.
David Davis – UK’s former Brexit negotiator
Having risen to Europe Minister in John Major’s government, David Davis’s political background made him the ideal candidate for the post of Brexit Secretary – the man tasked with delivering the UK’s departure from the EU. Initially, he presented an optimistic outlook, even when faced with the most daunting obstacles to a satisfactory withdrawal. However, Mr Davis eventually resigned from his post, stating that he felt the UK was “giving away too much and too easily” to the EU.
Dominic Raab – UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
The Brexit negotiations arena isn’t a place for the faint-hearted. So, who better to replace David Davis than someone with a black belt in karate? Martial arts expert Dominic Raab was thrust into the role of Britain’s chief negotiator following the resignation of Mr Davis over Theresa May’s proposals for trade with the EU. A staunch Brexiteer who played a leading role in the Leave campaign, he is said to be “relaxed” about the possibility of a no deal.
Michel Barnier – EU’s chief Brexit negotiator
The calm, refined Frenchman previously secured the Winter Olympics for his homeland in 1992. Can the European Commission’s chief negotiator now secure a favourable deal for the EU? Portrayed as the archetypal Brussels bureaucrat by the British tabloids, Mr Barnier – a former French foreign minister who hails from the continent’s pro-European centre-right – clearly sees his job as preserving the EU’s integrity, rather than doing the UK any favours.
Jean-Claude Juncker – president of the European Commission
As the current president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is Mr Barnier’s boss and the man responsible for assembling the EU’s team of Brexit negotiators. The centre-right pro-European and former prime minister of Luxembourg mostly leaves Brexit to Mr Barnier but makes the odd intervention.
Donald Tusk – president of the European Council
Donald Tusk’s role as president of the European Council is to keep Europe’s leaders united as they negotiate Britain’s withdrawal. The quietly-spoken former prime minister of Poland is often viewed as a calming influence on talks, expressing optimism that a deal can be reached. That said, he is adamant that the UK shouldn’t expect to cherry-pick its way out of the EU.
How to manage currency-related risk
Polarised political opinions, shock resignations and snap elections: the men and women on both sides of the Brexit divide have had a huge influence on the value of the pound in recent times and will continue to do so. So, how can you protect your international money transfers from further exchange rate fluctuations?
Foreign Currency Direct has been helping individuals and businesses to make international transfers cost effectively and efficiently since 2000. At the core of their offering is the personal service you’ll receive from your very own account manager. This dedicated expert will provide currency market insight and explain the range of tools designed to help you take control of your payments, like a Forward Contract.
A Forward Contract enables you to protect your international transfers from currency fluctuations, by fixing a rate for up to two years. So, you know how much your payments will cost when the time comes to make them.