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Here is a timeline for 21st century Britain - the story so far...
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UK forces intervene in the civil war in Sierra Leone.
Parliament passes the Freedom of Information Act, granting public right of access to information held by public authorities, with certain limitations.
Foot and mouth crisis hits farmers.
The Eden Project opens in Cornwall.
Libyan intelligence agent, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is found guilty of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
9/11. On 11th September, Islamic al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four aircraft and flew them at targets in the USA. Two are flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, a third into the Pentagon and a fourth crashes after passengers tackle the hijackers. Almost 3,000 people are killed (67 of them British) and thousands more injured.
Prime Minister Tony Blair offers US President Bush British support for a campaign against international terrorism. The RAF joins in strikes against targets in Afghanistan. British troops are deployed as part of a NATO force.
Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Golden Jubilee.
The last coal mine in Scotland closes.
The UK joins a US-led military invasion of Iraq, ostensibly to end the country’s support for terrorism and because it is alleged to have ‘weapons of mass destruction’.
England wins the Rugby World Cup, narrowly defeating Australia 20-17 in the final.
The Hutton Report, the result of an investigation into the suicide of government scientist David Kelly, clears the government of any wrongdoing.
Ten new states join the European Union - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Facebook is launched in the USA.
The Indian Ocean tsunami kills in excess of 200,000 people.
London bombings of 7/7 - 52 people are killed and about 700 injured in four Islamist suicide bomb attacks on London's transport network.
Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko is murdered in London having ingested radioactive polonium. Suspicion later falls on ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi, sparking a diplomatic row with Russia.
Daniel Craig stars as the latest James Bond in Casino Royale.
Gordon Brown replaces Tony Blair as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party.
Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the 7th and final book in the series, is published.
The surviving members of Led Zeppelin perform their first full-length concert in 27 years at London’s O2 Arena.
Meanwhile – Apple launch the iPhone.
Global financial crisis plunges the UK into recession.
Meanwhile - Barack Obama becomes the first black, and the 44th, President of the United States.
Britain withdraws most of its troops from southern Iraq.
The general election in May leaves the Conservative Party as winners but without an overall majority in the House of Commons. Conservative leader David Cameron forms the first coalition since the Second World War, with the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg.
The coalition government announces large-scale public spending cuts aimed at reducing UK's budget deficit.
In a wider context – the Arab Spring - revolutions and protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and several other Arab countries. The Syrian civil war begins.
Britain plays a prominent part in the international intervention in the conflict in Libya.
Prince William marries Kate Middleton.
The government announces a public inquiry, the Leveson Inquiry, into phone hacking and police bribery by now defunct the News of the World newspaper, and the culture and ethics of the British newspaper industry in general.
The killing of 29-year old Mark Duggan by police is a catalyst for widespread rioting and looting in many poorer areas of London, and in several other English cities.
In a wider context - Osama bin Laden is killed during a US raid.
HM the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Britain hosts the hugely successful Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
British Army Drummer Lee Rigby is hacked to death in south London by two Islamic extremists.
The Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a son George – heir to the throne after his grandfather, Charles, and father, William.
The House of Commons votes against UK military involvement in Syria.
Support surges for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in local and European elections.
Thousands of yellow bikes appear in Yorkshire to celebrate the start of the 101st Tour de France.
In September, a referendum in Scotland rejects independence (cessation from the UK), with 55% opting to remain within the United Kingdom and 45% favouring departure.
Same-sex marriage becomes legal in England, Wales and Scotland.
The UK ends combat operations in Afghanistan.
At the general election in May, the Conservative Party win a majority – against the predictions of pollsters. Its coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, lose all except 8 seats. UKIP wins nearly 4 million votes, but just 1 seat; and the Scottish National Party wins all but 3 seats in Scotland, becoming third largest party in parliament.
Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning UK monarch ever.
Outsiders Leicester City Football Club win the Premier League.
In a national referendum in June, the UK narrowly voted to leave the European Union. Prime Minister David Cameron resigns, and is succeeded by former home secretary, Theresa May.
Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee – 65 years.
On 29 March, the Prime Minister invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, beginning the UK’s withdrawal (nicknamed ‘Brexit’), from the European Union (EU).
Islamist Khalid Masood kills five people, including a police officer, and injured 45, driving a car along the pavement on Westminster Bridge and attempting to break into Parliament.
In May, a homemade bomb packed with shrapnel killed 23 people and injured more than 500 at Manchester Arena after a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande.
In June, three Islamic terrorists drove a van at people on London Bridge and subsequently rampaged through the area with knives. 8 were killed and 48 injured. The terrorists were shot dead by police.
A disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower, a block of flats in North Kensington, London, in which 71 people died, highlights inadequate safety measures in tower blocks.
The June general election called by Prime Minister Theresa May, in the hope of increasing her majority, resulted in a narrow Conservative victory and a minority government supported by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionists.
In January, US President Trump abandons a visit to the UK, claiming he was upset about the sale of the former US embassy in Grosvenor Square and the cost of the new one in Vauxhall.
The UK’s second-largest construction company, Carillion, collapses with enormous debts and unfinished public sector contracts.
In February, the UK is battered by some of the worst weather in decades, nicknamed ‘the Beast from the East’. 17 people died.
Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are poisoned with a nerve agent, novichok, in the historic city of Salisbury. Britain blames Russia for the attack, sparking a diplomatic crisis. 153 Russian diplomats are expelled from 29 countries.
Political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica is exposed in March for gathering data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without people's consent.
In April, Home Secretary Amber Rudd resigns in the wake of the Windrush scandal, in which people, mostly of Caribbean heritage, were illegally denied rights, or even deported from the UK.
On 19 May, Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales married US actress Rachel Meghan Markle in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. They take the titles the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Two Amesbury residents, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, fell ill having been contaminated with the same nerve agent as the Skripals in March, from a discarded fake perfume bottle. Dawn Sturgess died on 8 July.
England somehow reached the semi-finals of the World Football Cup in Russia, but was defeated 2-1 by Croatia. France beat Croatia 4-2 in the final.
During the ongoing heat-wave, the Meteorological Office urges people to stay out of the sun.
A Trump baby blimp flies over London during the US President’s visit to Britain.
The 96-year old Duke of Edinburgh undertook his last solo public engagement, meeting Royal Marines, before retiring from royal duties.
Several cabinet ministers resign in protest at the Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiations. Further resignations follow in November.
In December, Primer Minister Theresa May survived a vote of no confidence in her leadership, but her Brexit plan had still not been agreed by Parliament.
2019 in the UK was dominated by the issue of BREXIT, the UK’s departure from the European Union, following the referendum in 2016. The country was divided and politics became very ugly.
With the UK due to leave the EU on 29 March, Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiated EU withdrawal bill was rejected twice by the House of Commons, the first time in January by 432 votes to 202, a huge margin of 230. The second time was just days before the March deadline. One of the key issues was ‘the Irish backstop’, the arrangements for the future status of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which all parties wanted to keep open. Meanwhile, food retailers and suppliers, motor manufacturers, the TUC, CBI and others all warned of the dire consequences of Brexit or, worse, leaving the EU without a negotiated deal. Thousands of protestors marched in favour of a second referendum and millions signed a petition demanding that the government revoke Article 50, the legal mechanism for a member state of the European Union to leave. MPs rejected leaving the EU without a deal and voted in favour of an extension to the withdrawal date. The EU and UK agreed to an extension until 31 October. Belatedly, in the Spring, Theresa May embarked on cross-party talks, but these ended in failure.
High street bakery chain Greggs launched a meat free sausage roll.
97-year-old Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was involved in a car crash while driving near the Queen's Sandringham estate.
The Piper Malibu aircraft carrying Argentinean footballer Emiliano Sala went missing en route from Nantes to Cardiff, where the player had been due to begin a new playing career. The wreckage of the aeroplane was found in the English Channel in February and Sala’s body recovered. The pilot David Ibbotson’s body was not found.
Elsewhere – China became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon.
Schools in Wales and the south of England closed due to snow and icy conditions.
The Office for National Statistics reported that knife crime in England and Wales was at its highest level since records began in 1946.
A group of opposition Labour MPS, dissatisfied with their party’s leadership under Jeremy Corbyn and the failure to tackle alleged anti-Semitism, resigned and formed the Independent Group. They were joined by Conservative MPs dissatisfied with the government and Brexit. The group later became a new party, ‘Change UK’. The party did poorly in the European elections, several of its MPs joined the Liberal Democrats, all those remaining lost their seats in the December General Election and it was subsequently decided to wind the party up.
The Bank of England held interest rates at 0.75%.
The regional airline Flybmi filed for administration.
The environment and climate change were further frequent news items in 2019. In February and March, inspired by the teenage Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, thousands of school pupils across the UK went on strike as part of a global campaign for action on climate change. Subsequently, demonstrations by a climate change activist group, ‘Extinction Rebellion’, caused inconvenience and costly disruption in London and elsewhere, by blocking roads. Hundreds were arrested. The government announced a target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which was deemed by many environmentalists as too late. Exceptional weather events are seen as evidence of global climate change and warming.
On 25 July, a temperature of 38.7 °C (101.7 °F) was achieved in Cambridge, the hottest day on record in the UK.
In August, there was flooding in Derbyshire and the Toddbrook Reservoir was damaged during the heavy rain, resulting in the evacuation of 1500 residents of Whaley Bridge and nearby communities.
In November, flood warnings were issued across the Midlands and North of England. Some places received a month's worth of rainfall in 24 hours. Former High Sheriff of Derbyshire, Annie Hall, drowned near Matlock.
Further afield, world leaders, including Boris Johnson, expressed concern over major fires in and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. In the autumn, the first of many terrifying and destructive wildfires broke out in Australia. Whilst these were relatively common in previous years, and some were probably started deliberately, it is believed many of the extreme fires experienced in Australia from 2019-20 were a consequence of climate change. And in November, the Italian government declared a state of emergency in Venice with 80% of the city under water.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 airliner was grounded amidst worldwide safety concerns following the fatal crashes of an Ethiopian Airline aircraft this month and an Indonesian Lion Air aircraft in October 2018, which together claimed the lives of 346 people.
Nigel Farage, former leader of UKIP (the UK Independence Party), launched a new Brexit Party.
London's Ultra-Low Emission Zone came into effect.
The department store chain Debenhams went into administration.
On 18 April, 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead in Londonderry; republican terrorists were blamed for the murder.
A row broke out over security concerns if the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei was allowed to help build the UK’s 5G network.
In Paris, a disasterous fire wrecked the medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame.
In the early May local elections, the Liberal Democrats and Green Party did well, whilst Conservative and Labour parties didn't.
On 6 May, the Duchess of Sussex gave birth to a son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
In the May European elections, the Brexit and Liberal Democratic parties did well, again at the expense of the Conservatives and Labour.
On 24 May, Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation as Conservative Party leader, wef 7 June.
The Ford Motor Co announced the closure of its Bridgend plant in September 2020, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
The BBC announced that free TV licences will no longer be available to over-75s who do not receive pension credit.
Elsewhere – protests broke out in Hong Kong, initially against proposed legislation to allow the extradition of individuals to stand trial in mainland China. And US President Donald Trump crossed into the Korean demilitarised zone and shook hands with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.
On 2 July, 11.7 million UK TV viewers watched England lose 1-2 to the USA in the FIFA Women's World Cup. It was the most-watched British television broadcast of the year.
Eight members of a modern slavery network in the West Midlands were jailed.
Emails from Sir Kim Darroch, UK Ambassador to the USA, calling the administration of US President Trump "inept", "insecure" and "incompetent" were leaked. Sir Kim subsequently resigned.
14 July may be Bastille Day, but in 2019 in the UK it was deemed sport's ‘Super Sunday’. England narrowly defeated New Zealand in a nail-biting Cricket World Cup final at Lord's; Lewis Hamilton won a record sixth Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone; and in the Wimbledon men’s tennis final, Serbian Novak Djokovic beat Swiss Roger Federer in the longest ever final at four hours 57 minutes.
Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards seized the British tanker Stena Impero in the Persian Gulf, and the British-operated Liberian-flagged tanker Mesdar.
On 23 July, Boris Johnson was elected leader of the Conservative Party by party members, with almost twice as many votes as his rival, Jeremy Hunt. The following day, Theresa May formally tendered her resignation as Prime Minister to Her Majesty the Queen, who subsequently invited Boris Johnson to form a government. The new Prime Minister confirmed his commitment to the UK leaving the EU by 31 October and remained up-beat about the prospect, despite widespread, vociferous, opposition from those who feared a no-deal Brexit or who were in favour of the UK remaining in the EU. Loud voices were also raised across Britain in general opposition to Johnson and ‘the Tories’. In August, the Queen approved Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament from early September until 14 October. The Prime Minister was accused of being undemocratic; protests took place across the UK and the measure was ultimately ruled unlawful by both Scottish and English courts. In September, the government lost its majority in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, having previously declared his opposition to a general election, Johnson removed the whip from 21 traditional ‘one-nation’ Conservative MPs, including several former ministers, who opposed his policy over Brexit. Other Conservative MPs resigned, including the Prime Minister’s brother, Joe. The Benn Act, referred to the Prime Minister as “the surrender bill”, which forced the government to seek a further extension to EU membership if Parliament had not approved a deal by 19 October, became law. In October, despite having previously insisted that the deal negotiated with Theresa May was non-negotiable, the EU agreed a new Brexit withdrawal agreement with the UK, which followed talks between Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. However, Parliament did not approve the short timetable for discussing the new deal and Johnson was forced to request a further delay to Brexit. With progress of any sort on any matter impossible in the House of Commons, MPs finally consented to holding a general election on 12 December.
The Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff, which built the RMS Titanic and HMS Belfast, ceased trading. It was subsequently purchased for £6m.
Travel company Thomas Cook, originally founded in 1841, collapsed. Bringing home the 150,000 stranded holiday makers was the largest ever peacetime repatriation and a major achievement for the Civil Aviation Authority.
A potential diplomatic incident arose when it emerged that a US citizen, Anne Sacoolas, who had been involved in a fatal road accident in August in which 19-year old motorcyclist Harry Dunn had died, had left the country. Mrs Sacoolas was married to a US government employee and claimed diplomatic immunity. It also emerged that she had been driving on the wrong side of the road. In December, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Sacoolas was to be charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
The supermarket chain Sainsbury's announced it would no longer sell fireworks.
39 Vietnamese illegal immigrants were found suffocated to death in a refrigerated lorry container in Essex.
The government ordered that all fracking in the UK should cease "with immediate effect.
In the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle replaced John Bercow as Speaker of the House.
Several female Members of Parliament declared that they would not seek re-election in December, due to threats and abuse, much of it online.
The infant and young mother chain Mothercare went into administration.
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, announced he was stepping down from public duties for the foreseeable future. This followed his association with convicted American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, unproven accusations of sex with a 17-year old teenager and a clumsy, widely criticised, TV interview.
Former South Yorkshire police chief, David Duckenfield, was found not guilty of manslaughter in the Hillsborough disaster trial.
On 29 November, a convicted terrorist, Usman Khan, stabbed five people on London Bridge. Two of his victims died. Khan was wearing a fake explosive suicide vest and was shot dead by police at the scene.
In the general election on 12 December, the Conservative Party achieved a majority of 80 in the House of Commons, with 365 seats, while the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, was reduced to 203 seats - their lowest proportion of seats since 1935. The Scottish Nationalists won 48 of the 59 seats in Scotland, increasing the likelihood of another referendum on Scottish secession from the United Kingdom. The Liberal Democrats, who campaigned to scrap Brexit entirely, won 11 seats. Jo Swinson, who only in July had become the first woman and at 39 the youngest ever leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, lost her seat and resigned. Jeremy Corbyn declared his intention to stand down too.
On 20 December, MPs voted in favour of the Brexit withdrawal agreement by 358 to 234, paving the way for the UK's exit from the EU on 31 January 2020.
On 25 December, Gavin and Stacy’s Christmas Day TV special was watched by 11.6 million people, the biggest festive ratings success in more than a decade.