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
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, 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
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.
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
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, 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
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.