Brexit — a portmanteau for “British exit” — has generated a lot of very specific lingo.
And those terms we use to describe and define the United Kingdom’s breakup with the European Union can sometimes make this already complicated process even harder to follow.
Here’s a handy glossary of Brexit terms, with some links to more in-depth coverage, to help you better understand this slow-moving political divorce ahead of the new October 31 deadline.
This is a section in the European Union’s Treaty of Lisbon, the international agreement that lays out how the EU functions. Article 50 gives member states the power to leave the bloc.
The United Kingdom triggered Article 50 on March 29, 2017, when British Prime Minister Theresa May gave notice to European Council President Donald Tusk that the UK planned to leave the bloc. That kicked off the formal start of EU-UK negotiations and the two-year countdown until the UK’s official exit.
The Article 50 period for the UK was set to expire on March 29, 2019, but the rest of the EU member states agreed to extend it until at least April 12.
May asked for another extension last week, and EU leaders agreed to delay Brexit again, this time until October 31, 2019, though the UK can get out earlier if it manages to pass a Brexit deal. Any postponement requires the unanimous agreement of all EU member states.
But the UK does have the unilateral authority to revoke Article 50 and essentially cancel Brexit, at least according to a December ruling from the European Court of Justice. A petition on the UK Parliament’s website calling on May to revoke Article 50 reached nearly 6 million signatures last month.
A term that refers to hardliners, who tend to come from the right-wing of May’s Conservative Party, who ardently support the UK’s exit from the EU. Brexiteers want the UK to extricate itself from EU institutions and regulations as much as possible.
This refers to the divorce plan that May and the EU negotiated last year. There are two components: the 585-page withdrawal agreement, which is the legal text that lays out the terms of the breakup, and a shorter political declaration that establishes that the UK and EU will seek to negotiate a yet-to-be-determined future relationship.
The deal provides for a 21-month transition period after Brexit, which the UK and the EU will use to negotiate a future partnership. The has said that future talks are contingent on the UK passing the Brexit deal, which so far has proven impossible: Parliament has rejected the full Brexit deal twice, including once in January by a historic 230-vote margin. It also voted down just the withdrawal agreement in March 2019.