Chief characters in Britain's Brexit saga
Sunday, January 26, 2020       11:41 WIB

London, Jan 26, 2020 (AFP)
Britain's long, drawn-out Brexit saga enters a new chapter next week when the country becomes the first to leave the European Union.
The path to this landmark moment has been anything but smooth and has been marked by years of acrimony and division following Britain's historic 2016 referendum on EU membership.
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 campaigned to leave the EU for 25 years.
It was a surge in support for UKIP in the first half of the last decade that helped push then-Prime Minister David Cameron into calling the 2016 vote.
By focussing his campaign on mass immigration, Farage attracted a great deal of controversy.
Following the surprise victory by the "Leave" side, he initially said he would withdraw from frontline politics, but returned in 2019 denouncing what he saw as a "betrayal" of Brexit under then-premier Theresa May.
Farage founded the Brexit Party and stormed into first place in European Parliament elections in May last year.
But after Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as Prime Minister, Farage found his new party marginalised and it failed to win any seats in the December general election, despite fielding around 275 candidates.
- David Cameron -
Prime minister for six years from 2010, Cameron called the vote on EU membership and led the so-called "Remain" campaign.
When the country backed Brexit, he had little choice but to resign, admitting he could not be "the captain that steers our country to its next destination".
Cameron has since stayed largely out of the limelight, but gave a flurry of interviews in September to mark the publication of his memoirs.
He told ITV that Johnson, by then prime minister, had never truly believed in Brexit and had told Cameron it would be "crushed like a toad" in the referendum.
Cameron has also insisted that he does not regret calling the vote, but deeply regretted Remain's defeat and the resulting divisions and crises.
- Theresa May -
The ex-prime minister did not back Brexit in 2016, 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 was severely weakened after she opted to hold a snap general election in June 2017, which saw the Conservatives lose their parliamentary majority.
She subsequently faced near-constant rebellions and chastening defeats, and eventually stepped down as leader last summer -- after parliament had rejected her Brexit divorce deal three times.
- Boris Johnson -
The former London mayor was a figurehead in the official Leave campaign, urging Britain to "take back control" from Brussels.
He was then made foreign secretary by Theresa May, but his two-year stint ended when he resigned over her Brexit strategy.
Johnson retained a high profile, using his weekly column in The Daily Telegraph to attack her approach, and was well-placed to take advantage when May eventually stood down.
He easily won a Conservative Party leadership contest in July, and then defied expectations by securing new divorce terms with Brussels.
He scored a thumping majority in a December general election on a pledge to "get Brexit done".
Johnson has vowed to finalise trade deals with both the soon-to-be 27-member EU, and the United States, in 2020.
- Michel Barnier -
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator has been ever present in the process since Britain voted to leave the bloc, heading Brussels' team in the first phase of divorce talks.
The former French minister and veteran politician has been commended across Europe for his handling of the tricky, but high-profile task and for keeping the other 27 members united behind his strategy.
The European Commission has asked Barnier -- an ex-EU commissioner well-versed in the arcane mysteries of the bloc's law -- to remain in the post for the next stage of negotiations.

Sumber : AFP