Britain has voted to leave the European Union, but any such split is still years away. Here's a look at what happens next:
- Thursday's vote isn't legally binding, meaning Britain must still formally notify the EU of its intention to leave. To do so, it would invoke the never-before-used Article 50 of the EU treaty, which in turn sets off a two-year period of negotiations over the exit, explains CNN.
- But when that two-year clock starts ticking is still unclear. In theory, outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron could inform the EU at a meeting as early as next week. But Cameron said Friday he thinks it makes more sense for his successor to do so, notes the New York Times. That would push back the notification at least a few months.
- Even after the clock starts ticking, the exit won't necessarily be figured out within two years. A quote from the BBC: "It's not possible to predict exactly how long it would take, but comparable international trade deals have taken on average between four and nine years."
- The Telegraph: "Untying Britain from the old membership is the easy bit. Harder would be agreeing [on] a new trading relationship, establishing what tariffs and other barriers to entry are permitted, and agreeing on obligations such as free movement. Such a process, EU leaders claim, could take another five years."
- Why are things so vague? "The Treaty of Lisbon was drafted with the idea that [Article 50] would not be used, and to make it pretty hard to exit in a smooth way,” a Cambridge lecturer tells the Independent.
- And there's this: Because Thursday's vote isn't legally binding, "there are a few ways it could theoretically be blocked or overturned," notes Vox. The Guardian suggests one: Parliament could instruct the prime minister not to invoke Article 50.
- Also possible: A second referendum to undo the first.
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