The historic referendum dubbed as Brexit has now concluded, and the people of the United Kingdom have made it crystal clear that they are in favour of ending the 43-year-old relationship they've had with the European Union. With the Leave camp securing 52% of the votes in the EU referendum polling that concluded on 23 June, Prime Minister David Cameron has already declared his decision to step down by the month of October.
"I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months. But I do not think it will be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination," he said.
He has said that in the wake of UK's divorce from the EU, fresh leadership is the need of the hour, and will be essential to maintain stability within the UK.
After Britain's decision to break apart from the union, the remaining 27 members have made it clear that the procedure for their exit should be completed in a speedy manner, and in accordance with the guidelines laid down by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Exit negotiations should be concluded within 2 years at max. There cannot be any special treatment. Leave means leave. #Brexit 4/4— Manfred Weber (@ManfredWeber) June 24, 2016
However, as per Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty that lays down guidelines for the procedure in the event of a member country wanting to terminate relations with the union, it is the member country that has to initiate the exit proceedings, by notifying the council of its decision. There is no process for the EU to trigger the withdrawal.
How is Britain going to go about the 'Brexit' procedure?
The very first step that has to be undertaken by British authorities is to invoke Article 50, and to formally inform the Union of its decision to end its relationship with the EU. This will then set into motion a new series of negotiations, to separate the economies that have been intertwined ever since the UK became a member of the European bloc in 1973.
However, there is no way to specifically determine how long the negotiation procedure would last, given the fact that Britain is to become the first member in the history of the EU to be withdrawing its membership.
Once the terms of withdrawing from the EU have been drawn up, Britain has to then negotiate terms of new trading arrangements that have to be entered into with the remaining 27 member states. There are essentially three steps to the negotiation procedure: formally disengaging from the EU, implementing terms of withdrawal that are negotiated, and then to draw up conditions for the new trading relationship.
What happens during these two years?
As per the provisions laid down in Article 50, the withdrawal agreement has to be drawn up within a period of two years, after which the UK will formally be required to exit the EU, and all EU-related treaties would then cease to apply to them. The terms of withdrawal do not necessarily have to be ratified by all member states. Reaching a qualified majority of 65% is sufficient.
Article 50 also lays down that during the period of these two years, even though the withdrawing nation theoretically remains a part of the EU, it cannot take part in any of the discussions of the European Council, or have a say in any of the decisions concerning the union.
If in the future the United Kingdom wants to rejoin the EU, the procedure they would have to resort to would be the same as any new member country.