Britain’s 47 years in the European Union will come to an end at the stroke of midnight Friday, 31 January, launching an 11-month transition period that will preserve the status quo ahead of the 31 December deadline for Britain and Brussels to negotiate a free trade deal.

Starting with the referendum of 2016, the Brexit saga has enjoyed some profoundly pivotal cliff-edge milestones that led the UK to the current moment; it is poised to break away from the EU on 31 January.

Here are some of the events that left their indelible trace on the process leading up to the country’s impending divorce with the bloc.

Brexit Referendum

The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, commonly referred to as the EU referendum, or the Brexit referendum, took place on 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. The question asked was:

"Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"

The majority of those who voted chose to leave the European Union, with 51.9 percent of the vote, versus 48.1 percent voting to remain.

The UK government formally announced the country's withdrawal in March 2017, triggering the beginning of the Brexit process.

Membership of the EU and the European Economic Community which preceded it had long been a topic of debate in the United Kingdom, as earlier, in May 2015, following a Conservative Party manifesto pledge, a legal basis for the EU referendum was established through the European Union Referendum Act of 2015.

Immediately after the referendum result, on 24 June, David Cameron announced that he would resign as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, having campaigned unsuccessfully for the country to remain in the European Union.

'Embattled' Theresa May In, Cameron Out

David Cameron was succeeded by Theresa May on 13 July 2016. May had won the contest on 11 July 2016, after the withdrawal of Andrea Leadsom left her as the sole candidate.

Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, originally touted by some as a frontrunner, had chosen not to run after Michael Gove withdrew his backing and announced his own candidacy.