efe-epaBy Clea House Madrid

The Brexit ballot led to the demise of its brainchild former UK prime minister David Cameron and could see PM Theresa May following in his footsteps as her increasingly fragmented party is at loggerheads and Parliament is in a state of disarray.

A DIVIDED NATION

On June 23, 2016 people in the UK voted to leave the EU, a ballot that split the nation with 51,9 percent of voters backing an EU divorce and 48,1 percent opting to remain within the bloc. The electoral commission recorded a 72,2 percent turnout.

The referendum was triggered by Cameron who made calling a public consultation on the UK's relationship with the bloc a key element of his manifesto during the 2015 general elections, which he won with an outright majority.

The following day Cameron stepped down after six years in office.

"I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the EU," Cameron said in a statement. "But the British people made a different decision."

NEGOTIATING THE DIVORCE

In July, 2016, the Conservative party chose May as its leader and she took eight months to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's legal mechanism for member states wishing to leave the bloc.

May triggered Article 50 on Mar. 29, 2017.

Article 50 gives member states a maximum of two years to negotiate with the EU slating the UK's divorce date for Mar. 29, 2019, at 11 pm British time.

Under EU law, the UK would have the ability to unilaterally revoke Article 50, the European Court of Justice ruled on Dec. 10, 2018.

THE WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT

After a 20-month-long negotiation period, on Nov. 25, 2018, May and the EU penned a withdrawal agreement and political declaration, which covered the key areas of citizens' rights both in the UK and in the bloc, a financial settlement and the terms over how to address the issue of the border with Northern Ireland.

The deal, which all 27 EU leaders unanimously endorsed, required the further ratification of the UK and EU parliaments.

As negotiations came to an end, May urged MPs to now back her deal in order to avoid a no-deal scenario and ensure an orderly departure from the EU.

She called on British lawmakers to rally behind her saying that it was "in our national interest - one that works for our whole country and all of our people, whether you voted 'Leave' or 'Remain'."

A PARLIAMENT AT LOGGERHEADS

Next steps required the House of Commons, the UK's lower chamber of lawmaking, to back May's deal in order to meet the Mar. 29 Brexit deadline and fulfill the results of the 2016 referendum.

The PM took her deal to MPs on Jan. 15 where she took a blow with the largest defeat in UK democratic history, as her withdrawal agreement was voted down 432 votes to 202.

One of the main sticking points that stymied May's deal was the Irish Backstop, a measure the EU had imposed to ensure there was no return to a 'hard' border between the UK's Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should future talks between London and Brussels collapse, or in a no-deal scenario.

To place a 'hard' border on the island of Ireland would contravene the Good Friday peace agreement of 1998.

May returned to the EU to seek assurances from Brussels on the contentious issue and returned with clarifications from the bloc with "a joint legally binding instrument" that affirmed the EU could not trap the UK in the backstop indefinitely.

May took her deal to a second parliamentary vote on March 12 were it was voted down for a second time (391 votes to 242).

BREXIT DELAY

With no deal in sight, and following a parliamentary vote that rejected a no-deal crash out of the EU, May returned to Brussels to request an extension.

The EU granted the UK a double date extension, with some conditions attached to it: to extend the divorce date to May 22 if Parliament backed the withdrawal agreement, or to leave the bloc with no deal on Apr. 12.

EU parliamentary elections are set to take place between May 23-26.

This put the wheels in motion to an unprecedented move on Mar. 25, when MPs voted to temporarily take control of Brexit in order to resolve the deadlock.

MPs went on to vote on a series of so-called indicative votes that included leaving the EU without a deal, a "soft" Brexit that would keep the UK in the single market, and a customs union as backed by the main opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Commons rejected all eight options.

On the same day, May vowed to step down if MPs backed her deal.

May's cabinet has said there will be another Brexit vote on Friday, Mar. 29.

As Britons await decisive political action in an environment of total political uncertainty, one thing remains clear: Brexit has done away with May's political credibility and, as seems increasingly likely, her days are numbered.

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