Britain was set to leave the EU on the 31st of October 2019. For 12 days, as the deadline approached, Ed photographed in Essex and around London. The land was indifferent to the Brexit process. 

October 19: The day before the first shoot the House of Commons meets on a Saturday for the first time since 1982. The PM had hoped to win its backing for his deal. But MPs vote to withhold their approval until the laws to implement Brexit are in place. This means the Benn Act comes into force: because parliament has not approved a deal or a no-deal exit by this date, the PM is obliged to seek a three-month Brexit delay from the EU. Johnson duly sends a letter to Brussels but leaves it unsigned. On the same day, hundreds of thousands of people march in London for another Brexit referendum.

October 20: On the first day of shooting in Harwich, Essex,  EU ambassadors meet briefly to consider the UK request. The European Commission has said it “takes note” of the UK parliamentary vote, but EU leaders make it clear they are looking to the UK to clarify its next steps. 

October 21: Day two of shooting in Wrabness Essex and Johnson is refused permission to bring a straight “yes or no” vote on the deal to parliament. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow rules the motion was essentially the same as the one brought on Saturday. The government publishes its bill to implement the Brexit deal.

October 22: Day three of shooting in Dovercourt, Essex. The Commons holds its first debate on the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. It passes its first hurdle, achieving a majority of 30 at the second reading. However, MPs reject by 14 votes the proposed three-day timetable, described as woefully inadequate for such an important matter. Boris Johnson says the government will “pause” the legislation. European Council President Donald Tusk says he will recommend that the EU27 accept the UK extension request.

October 23: Day 4 of shooting in Hyde Park, central London. Boris Johnson tells parliament he awaits the EU’s decision on a delay. Germany says it is open to a short-term extension. But France has been pushing back, saying any extension must have a good reason.

October 24: Day six of shooting walking from Camberwell to Kensington, in London. Boris Johnson calls for a general election on December 12 – and sends an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn saying he will allow parliament more time to approve the exit deal if MPs back the snap poll. The European Parliament backs a "flexible extension" that could end before the end of January. France again calls for more clarity from Britain.

October 25: Day seven in Kennington park. Meeting on Friday, EU27 envoys to Brussels agree to a Brexit extension, but decide to delay a decision on the details until after the weekend.

October 26: Day eight of shooting while walking in Hamstead heath, north London. DUP leader Arlene Foster tells her party conference it cannot support the agreement as it creates a customs border in the Irish Sea. The Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party (SNP) send a letter to Donald Tusk to say that if the EU grants an extension to January 31, 2020, they will back a general election on December 9.

October 27

October 28: Tusk says the EU has agreed to offer the UK a Brexit “flextension” until January 31. Boris Johnson confirms that he is forced to accept it. The government stands down its no-deal Brexit preparations, and puts on hold its advertising campaign for an october 31 departure. The PM’s latest call for an early election fails in parliament. The motion passes but falls well short of the two-thirds majority needed under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

October 29: Jeremy Corbyn lifts Labour’s opposition to an early election, arguing that the extension means a no-deal Brexit is “off the table”. The government tries again in parliament, via a bill that needs only a simple majority but runs the risk of being amended. By a large majority, MPs finally back a general election on December 12. Donald Tusk – due to stand down as European Council president – confirms the EU27 have formally adopted the Brexit extension. He bids goodbye to “British friends”, adding “please make the best use of this time”.advertising campaign for an october 31 departure. The PM’s latest call for an early election fails in parliament. The motion passes but falls well short of the two-thirds majority needed under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.


October 30: Johnson and Corbyn trade barbs at the last PMQs before parliament is dissolved for the election campaign.

October 31: The last Brexit deadline arrives. Despite Boris Johnson’s previous repeated assertions that Brexit will happen on Halloween, “no ifs or buts”, “come what may”, “do or die”... the UK is still in the EU.

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