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Timeline of events


April 1

British authority in Rhodesia ends and the former colony becomes the independent republic of Zimbabwe

May 5

The government announces plans for a fleet of five Trident submarines

July 22

Unemployment stands at 1,896,634: the highest since 1936

August 8

Housing Act: Council house tenants may buy their homes

September 21

First CND rally at Greenham Common, Berkshire, against proposed siting of US Cruise missiles

November 4

Ronald Reagan defeats Jimmy Carter in US presidential election


February 10

The Coal Board announces that it is to close 50 pits employing 30,000 miners

March 26

Social Democratic Party is formed

July 29

Prince of Wales marries Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral

September 15

Government announces 10 million to redevelop the South Docks area of Liverpool


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January 12

Spain calls off its 12-year siege of Gibraltar

April 2

Argentina invades and annexes Falkland Islands and their dependencies

April 5

Navy task force sails from Portsmouth

April 7

Exclusion zone of 200 miles around Falklands is announced by Defence Ministry

June 13-14

Pincer attack on Port Stanley leads to Argentinian surrender

June 21

Prince William is born – third in line to the throne


January 31

Wearing of seatbelts is made compulsory

May 16

Wheel clamps introduced in London

June 9

Conservatives win the general election with a majority of 144

July 6 & 7

The government announces a rise in defence spending (including 624 million for the Falklands) and the new Chancellor Nigel Lawson announces public spending cuts of 500 million


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January 9

Index of share prices tops 600 for the first time

March 5

Miner’s strike against threatened pit closures, begun in Scotland on 21 Feb, spreads to Yorkshire

April 12

Telecommunications Act: privatises British Telecom

December 3

British Telecom shares go public, great gains on first day of trading


January 25

Debate in House of Lords televised for the first time

March 5

NUM calls off year-long miners strike

April 11

First British baby dies of AIDS, an 18-month old boy

August 20

Amstrad launches its PCW 8256 word processor

September 26

The government announces it has allotted 1 million to counter the spread of the AIDS virus


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January 20

Channel Tunnel project confirmed

March 2

The Queen signs the Australia Bill, formally severing the nation’s last constitutional ties with Britain

July 31

Three-and-a-quarter million are unemployed, the highest recorded figure

November 6

The Chancellor announces 4.6 billion rise in public spending

December 8

Trading in British Gas shares begins


June 11

General election cuts Conservative overall majority to 101

October 19

Black Monday: the Stock Market crashes


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March 3

Liberals and SDP merge as Social and Liberal Democratic Party (SLD)

December 21

Pan Am jumbo jet blown up by bomb above the Scottish borders; wreckage falls on Lockerbie; 270 passengers and crew and 11 townsfolk are killed


May 8

Labour Party National Executive drops nationalisation as a fundamental objective of policy


Withering away of communism in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary

November 9

Demolition of the Berlin Wall begins


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March 31

Violent demonstrations against the Poll Tax in London

September 6 to 7

Parliament recalled: MPs back government’s anti-Iraq stance in the Gulf Crisis after Iraq invaded Kuwait

November 22

Mrs Thatcher announces her intention to resign

November 28

John Major succeeds Thatcher as Prime Minister

December 1

Channel Tunnel: pilot tunnels from English and French coasts meet


January 16 to 17

RAF planes collaborate with UN allies in concentrated bombing of Iraqi airfields and strategic bases

January 28

British advance on Baghdad stops when UN operations are halted by Iraqi acceptance of provisional cease-fire


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April 9

General election cuts Conservative overall majority to 21

October 15

British troops begin peace-keeping duties in Bosnia

December 9

Major announces that the Prince and Princess of Wales are to split


October 8

John Major promotes his ‘Back to Basics’ campaign for Britain at the Tory Party conference


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May 6

President Mitterrand and Elizabeth II open the Channel Tunnel

July 21

Tony Blair elected leader of the Labour Party

October 17 to 21

Elizabeth II makes the first state visit by a reigning British monarch to Russia


April 29

Labour party special conference accepts modification of the 1918 party constitution: ‘Clause 4’ commitment to nationalisation of production, distribution and exchange is dropped

May 31

British government announces formation of five-nation rapid action force to impose peace in Bosnia

June 22

Prime Minister Major resigns as Conservative leader in order to seek a party vote of confidence

July 4

Major receives vote of confidence in leadership contest


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March 20

The British Government announces that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is likely to have been transmitted to people


May 1

The Labour Party end 18 years of Conservative rule in the 1997 UK general election

May 2

Tony Blair appointed Prime Minister

August 31

Diana, Princess of Wales is taken to a hospital after a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris. She is pronounced dead at 4:00 the next morning

September 11

Referendum in Scotland in favour of Scottish parliament

September 18

The referendum held in Wales sees a narrow vote in favour of devolution


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January 1

Euro currency introduced across participating European Union Countries

March 24

NATO forces led by Britain and the United States began air attacks on Serbia – transforming NATO from a defensive to an offensive alliance


September 7 to 14

The UK fuel protests take place, with refineries blockaded, and supply to the country’s network of petrol stations halted


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February 20

Foot-and-mouth crisis begins

April 29

Census of British population

June 7

Tony Blair’s Labour Party elected for second term in UK General Election

September 11

Almost 3,000 killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York City, The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania

October 7

The American attack on Afghanistan begins. The United Kingdom participates


April 9

Funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother takes place in Westminster Abbey, London


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March 20

2003 Iraq war: land troops from United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invade Iraq


May 1

The largest expansion to date of the European Union takes place, extending the Union by 10 member states: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Malta and Cyprus


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April 9

The marriage of The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles takes place, after being briefly postponed after Pope John Paul II’s death. Camilla assumes the titles Her Royal Highness and The Duchess of Cornwall

May 5

In the 2005 general election the Labour Party is re-elected

July 7

Four explosions rock the transport network in London, three on the London Underground and one on a bus. Over 50 people died, and over 200 were injured

October 21

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar; celebrations held around the United Kingdom