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Answering The Big Questions Now The UK Has Voted For Brexit

Will there be a general election? Can there be a second referendum? What's article 50? We have ~questions~.

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The UK has voted to leave the EU, and prime minister David Cameron has announced his resignation. Now people across the UK and beyond are asking questions about what the results mean and what happens next.

We've got the first answer to some of the biggest questions here. If yours isn't here, please submit it using the form at the end of the post, and we'll keep updating.

Will we have to have a general election now?

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The UK won't have an immediate general election, but the chances of one happening earlier than 2020 are definitely higher.

David Cameron has announced he will step down by the time of the Conservative party conference in October. In order to resign as prime minister, he needs to be able to assure the Queen there is another prime minister and viable government in waiting.

What this means in practice is that the Conservative party will elect a new leader, who will then take over as prime minister without a general election. The party's MPs will pick a shortlist of two candidates for leader, and then Conservative members will vote. The winner will then automatically become PM – and Boris Johnson is currently favourite.

However, the new prime minister may find the Conservatives' very small parliamentary majority difficult to manage if there is both an economic crisis and unpopular exit talks. They may wish to call for a general election to try to secure a bigger majority, and their own mandate.

Because of the fixed-term parliament act introduced by the last government, this would need the support of at least some opposition MPs. That's unlikely to be difficult to get though.

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Will there be a second EU referendum before the UK actually leaves the European Union?

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There is no requirement for the UK to have a second referendum before it leaves: Both the Remain and Leave camps said they would abide by the result of the referendum and "leave means leave". EU leaders have subsequently made it clear they would like the UK to leave the EU as quickly as is reasonably possible.

Despite a petition for a second referendum on the No. 10 website hitting the 100,000 threshold to be considered for parliamentary debate, this has no realistic chance of causing such a vote to take place.

It's not impossible that the UK would hold a second referendum, though. The process of leaving will take several years, and there may be a change of government over the time. There's also no consensus among different pro-Leave politicians about what Brexit should look like.

If the government changes, the economy is struggling, and Brexit has become very unpopular, it's possible a future prime minister may try to call a second referendum to prevent exit. However, if article 50 has been triggered (see below), this may not be possible.

What's article 50 and why does it matter?

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Article 50 is the formal process for a member state to leave the EU. It is triggered by an leader of a EU nation alerting the union that their state wishes to leave.

That motion then triggers a formal two-year process to arrange the terms of separation and hammer out a deal. The departing state negotiates with EU officials, who in turn try to reach consensus with the other 27 members. The departing country does not get to be in the room during those talks.

At least 20 of the remaining 27 nations have to agree to a deal, and if the talks are to be extended, all 27 members must agree. If the clock runs out, the country leaves with no transition plan, border deals, or trade deals – a disastrous result. So the remaining EU nations keep the strong negotiating power, not the departing country. Formally, the process is irreversible once it begins.

Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn both said on Friday morning the UK should trigger article 50 as soon as possible, while other politicians in the Leave camp say it should be delayed until the UK is more ready for negotiations. EU politicians have expressed a wish for the UK to trigger the process sooner rather than later.

Will Scotland have a second independence referendum now?

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Unlike England and Wales, Scotland voted heavily in favour of remaining in the EU – but because it's part of the UK, it will exit the union with the rest of the country after Friday's referendum result.

That's not something Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, wants to happen. Sturgeon is the leader of the Scottish National Party, which campaigned (unsuccessfully) for Scottish independence in 2014.

Sturgeon said on Friday a second independence vote was now "highly likely" and she would work to keep Scotland in the EU, in accordance with its vote.

However, it's not strictly in Sturgeon's power to call a second EU referendum – this would likely have to be granted by the UK parliament in Westminster, and politicians in London have expressed reluctance to grant such a vote.

It's also possible that Scotland could attempt to hold an "indicative" second referendum without Westminster's involvement, though such a move would surely damage relations between the two administrations. If Scotland is determined to hold a referendum, its request may prove hard to deny.

Is Jeremy Corbyn going to be ousted as leader of the Labour party?

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has always been less popular with his fellow MPs than with the Labour members who elected him leader in a shock 2015 vote.

Corbyn has faced public criticism for what was seen as his lacklustre contribution to the Remain campaign, which included refusing to appear in TV debates, declining to take part in an eve-of-vote unity rally, and saying his support for the EU was "7 out of 10" in one of his few pre-referendum TV appearances.

Two Labour MPs have now triggered a no-confidence vote in the Labour leader, which will lead to a secret ballot among the parliamentary party early next week. Rebels expect some frontbench Labour MPs to publicly call for Corbyn's ouster over the weekend.

It's not clear whether or not the Labour leader will be able to survive the vote. Labour has never found it nearly so easy as the Conservative party to replace its leaders, and if Corbyn were to fight to keep his job, his substantial support among the wider Labour party means he would be a strong candidate to win a second leadership election.

Corbyn's fate will largely be decided by senior Labour MPs who will now be calculating whether or not now is the time to oust their leader and, crucially, if they can unite around a viable alternative candidate.

Where is the British/French border now? Will the Calais deal survive Brexit?

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The UK has a longstanding deal with France around immigration controls and holding areas for refugees at Calais, on the UK–French border, as part of the UK's efforts to manage migration.

The deal effectively makes Calais the "border" between France and the UK, meaning border checks happen there – and is the main reason for the unpopular refugee camps and detention centres in the town.

This arrangement won't change overnight, and it isn't formally related to the EU at all – it's a deal between the two countries. However, French politicians have stated on multiple occasions during the EU referendum campaign that they would be likely to rip up the deal if the UK votes to leave.

The deal is unpopular in France, and so with elections coming up in the country officials have told BuzzFeed UK major parties will include scrapping the arrangement as part of their manifestos. The terms of the agreement allow either country to unilaterally end it at any time.

Ending the deal would move the UK border back to Dover, and mean the controls and other measures would need to be established there – opening the possibility of refugee camps on UK shores.

James Ball is a special correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. PGP: here

Contact James Ball at James.Ball@buzzfeed.com.

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