The UK voted to leave the European Union on June 23rd 2016 by a majority of 51.9 to 48.1 per cent, with a turnout of just under 72 per cent. This set the UK on course to leave the EU, but left all the details of its exit still to be decided. The timetable was set the following March 29th, when British prime minister Theresa May took the formal step, required under EU law to start the exit process, of triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Under the two-year process the UK will leave the EU on March 29th, 2019. An extension to the exit period is possible if all 28 EU members agree. However negotiations have been taking place on the assumption that the UK leaves in March 2019.
The talks between the UK and EU started in June 2017 and so far have focused on the details of the UK’s withdrawal, which must be set down in a formal, legal agreement. Outline agreement has been reached on what the UK will pay the EU after departure – the so-called exit bill or divorce bill – and on the mutual recognition of the rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.