Article 50 - what is it?

Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member the right to quit unilaterally, and outlines the procedure for doing so.

- There was no way to legally leave the EU before the Treaty was signed in 2007.

- It gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal.

- Once set in motion, it cannot be stopped except by unanimous consent of all member states.

- Any deal must be approved by a 'qualified majority' of EU member states and can be vetoed by the European Parliament.

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(March 28th 2017)

Mrs May, the British Prime Minister, signed the most important document of her career, Article 50, informing the European Council of Britain's intention to leave the European Union - in Downing Street on Tuesday, March 28 2017.

After she posed for a picture signing it, the Article 50 letter was taken to Belgium overnight by a civil servant accompanied by a guard, to ensure there could be no last-minute hitches. 

It was handed over to European Commission president Donald Tusk in Brussels by Britain's most senior diplomat in Brussels, Sir Tim Barrow the following day.

This marks the start of two years of negotiations to thrash out a deal for Britain's exit from the European Union (EU).

It means that the UK will quit the EU by March 29 2019 at the latest, ahead of the European Parliament elections in May of that year.

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article 50, what is article 50

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