Britain’s drawn-out drama around Brexit, which is set to take another twist this week as parliament again grapples with the way forward, has featured a colourful cast of characters — crashing or catapulting their careers.
Here are some of the public figures who have played pivotal roles in events.
– Nigel Farage –
A eurosceptic member of the European Parliament and former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Farage has been campaigning to leave the European Union for 25 years.
A surge in support for his anti-establishment party helped push then-prime minister David Cameron into calling the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
Farage caused controversy with his campaign focus on mass immigration.
He now spearheads the Brexit Party under the slogan “It’s time to save Brexit” and vowed Friday to lead it into the European elections with a roster of candidates if Britain agrees a longer extension to the country’s departure from the bloc.
He has also periodically joined a march from Sunderland to London for a mass Leave Means Leave rally later this month.
– David Cameron –
Prime minister for six years from 2010, Cameron launched a referendum on EU membership and then led the Remain campaign.
When the country backed Brexit, he had little choice but to stand down, admitting he could not be “the captain that steers our country to its next destination”.
Cameron has since stayed largely out of the limelight, penning his memoirs. He made a rare comment in January that he did not regret calling the referendum but deeply regretted the Remain defeat and the ensuing problems.
– Theresa May –
The prime minister quietly supported Remain in the 2016 referendum but emerged as the “safe hands” candidate to lead the governing Conservatives after Cameron’s departure.
May vowed Britain would leave the single market and end freedom of movement, but her negotiating position was severely weakened when she decided to hold a snap general election in June 2017, which saw the Conservatives lose their parliamentary majority.
She has since faced near-constant rebellions and chastening defeats, but has somehow defied the odds, remained in office and is still battling to get her twice-rejected deal through parliament.
However in the wake of this week’s agreed delay to Brexit and growing political paralysis, speculation is rife that she may now have to stand down.
– Jeremy Corbyn –
The veteran socialist rose from a career of leftist obscurity to win the leadership of the main opposition Labour Party in 2015.
Thanks to grassroots support, he survived an internal coup by his own MPs over his lukewarm support for Labour’s Remain position in the EU membership referendum.
He has since been criticised by both the pro- and anti-EU camps for sitting on the fence over Brexit, and faced the wrath of Remainers for not wholeheartedly supporting a second referendum.
– Boris Johnson –
The former London mayor was a key figurehead in the official Leave campaign, urging Britain to “take back control” from Brussels.
He was made foreign secretary by the new leader May but his two-year stint ended when he resigned over her Brexit strategy.
He remains a high-profile character, using his weekly column in The Daily Telegraph to assail May’s approach.
Johnson has recently tamed his wild blond locks, shrunk his waistline and gone public with his new partner, raising suspicions that he is lining himself up as a contender to replace May.
The Daily Telegraph reported Johnson visited May in Downing Street Friday to remind her that she had previously promised Tories only to serve “as long as you want me”.
– Jacob Rees-Mogg –
Dubbed “the MP for the 18th century”, the erudite, ultra-Conservative backbencher leads the eurosceptic European Research Group of 60 to 85 Conservatives who back leaving with no deal.
He failed to unseat May in December over Brexit. The ERG’s refusal to back May’s deal, critically over the Irish backstop, has seen it stall.
He has been keeping a lower profile in recent weeks after declaring earlier this month: “No deal is better than a bad deal but a bad deal is better than remaining in the European Union.”
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