From referendum to green light for Brexit - key moments

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The Department for Exiting the EU was founded only three weeks after the June 23 referendum that triggered Britain's divorce from the EU

From the shock vote to leave the European Union to parliamentary approval for starting the withdrawal process, here are some key moments on the path to Brexit:

- Britons vote for Brexit -

On June 23, 2016, 17.4 million Britons voted to end their 43-year-old membership of the European Union -- a proportion of 52 percent to 48 percent.

- Sterling falls -

The result took markets by surprise, although they soon recovered.

The blow to sterling lasted longer -- since the referendum, the pound has lost between 15 and 16 percent of its value against the dollar and the euro.

- Change of government -

On June 24, Conservative prime minister David Cameron, who called the referendum and led the campaign to stay in, announced his resignation.

He said he would stay on until a successor was found, sparking a leadership race that in the end proved remarkably swift.

Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson withdrew at the last minute and Theresa May, Cameron's interior minister for six years, was crowned leader on July 11.

- Brexiteers take over -

On July 13, May became prime minister, appointing three leading eurosceptics to senior posts in her government and promising to implement Brexit.

Johnson became foreign secretary, Liam Fox became international trade secretary and David Davis was put in charge of a new Brexit ministry.

- Scottish nationalism -

On July 15, May visited Scotland to meet nationalist First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and underline her support for the United Kingdom.

Scotland voted by 62 percent to stay in the EU, prompting Sturgeon to warn that Brexit could lead to a second independence referendum.

- Brexit means Brexit -

On October 2, May said that Britain will trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon treaty, which sets out a two-year process of leaving the bloc, before the end of March 2017.

- Court challenge -

On November 3, the High Court in London ruled that the government must obtain parliamentary approval to begin the Brexit process.

The Daily Mail tabloid condemned the judges as "Enemies of the People" and May appealed.

On January 24, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling, although it said the government had no obligation to consult Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales in the negotiations.

- Clean break -

On January 17, May gave a major speech setting out her strategy for Brexit.

She had previously promised to cut migration from the EU and now acknowledged this would mean Britain leaving Europe's single market.

She warned she was willing to walk away from the negotiations with Brussels, saying: "No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain."

- Trump endorsement -

On January 27, May became the first foreign leader to visit newly elected US President Donald Trump at the White House.

He called Britain's decision to leave the EU a "wonderful thing" and hailed the "special relationship" between the two countries.

- Parliament backs Brexit -

On February 8, MPs in the House of Commons approved by a margin of 494 to 122 a bill empowering May to trigger Article 50, the formal procedure for leaving the European Union.

On March 1, the unelected upper House of Lords voted to amend the bill to include guarantees for European nationals living in Britain.

Another amendment, to give parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal, followed on March 7.

The bill returned to the House of Commons on Monday, where MPs overturned the amendments.

The House of Lords accepted defeat later on Monday and the bill is now awaiting formal royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II.