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Brexit: All you need to know

Why do we call leaving the EU ‘Brexit’?

It’s a word we use as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit.

Why are we leaving the European Union?

The UK held a referendum on Thursday, June 23, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.

When is the UK set to leave the EU?

For the UK to leave the EU it had to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives the two sides two years to agree the terms of the split. Theresa May triggered this process on March 29, 2017, meaning the UK is scheduled to leave at 11pm UK time on Friday, March 29, 2019. A European court has ruled that the UK can decide to stop the process. Alternatively it can be extended if all 28 EU members agree.

What is this ‘transition’ period?

The ‘transition period’ refers to a length of time after March 29, 2019, to 31 December, 2020 (or possibly later), where we will be given time to get everything in place and allow businesses and others to prepare for the moment when the new post-Brexit rules between the UK and the EU begin. Free movement will continue during the transition period, as the EU wanted. The UK will be able to strike its own trade deals – although they won’t be able to come into force until 1 January 1, 2021.

What is Article 50?

Article 50 is a plan that allows any country that wishes to exit the EU to do so. The Treaty is quite short at just 50 paragraphs. It spells out that any EU member state may decide to quit the EU, that it must notify the European Council and negotiate its withdrawal with the EU, that there are two years to reach an agreement – unless everyone agrees to extend it – and that the exiting state cannot take part in EU internal discussions about its departure.

The letter from the Prime Minister triggering Article 50

What is the single market?

The single market is seen as the EU’s biggest achievement and one of the main reasons it was set up in the first place. Britain was a member of a free trade area in Europe before it joined what was then known as the common market. In a free trade area countries can trade with each other without paying tariffs – but it is not a single market because the member states do not have to merge their economies together.

The European Union single market, which was completed in 1992, allows the free movement of goods, services, money and people within the European Union, as if it was a single country. It is possible to set up a business or take a job anywhere within it. The idea was to boost trade, create jobs and lower prices.

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