1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
3. The Commission, or the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy where the agreement envisaged relates exclusively or principally to the common foreign and security policy, shall submit recommendations to the Council, which shall adopt a decision authorising the opening of negotiations and, depending on the subject of the agreement envisaged, nominating the Union negotiator or the head of the Union's negotiating team.
(b) By way of derogation from point (a), when the Council does not act on a proposal from the Commission or from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the qualified majority shall be defined as at least 72% of the members of the Council representing Member States comprising at least 65% of the population of these States.
Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union. The European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be notified of this application. The applicant State shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the assent of the European Parliament, which shall act by an absolute majority of its component members. The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The conditions of eligibility agreed upon by the European Council shall be taken into account.
The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.
Look, this isn't complex. Anyone who's been to school and can read, anyone who's ever read a novel with more than 27 total characters, can take time to gain understanding.
And this is why I'm scared. From childhood I've been a voracious reader, though parenthood broke my streak. Yet I know people who are, if not proud, content to say they've never read a book since leaving school. Heck though I'm writing a book right now! Yet they too turned out ok, right? Apart from that blind faith the same politicians who are screwing them over can guide them to the future prosperity.
I've trotted out this before: if we had the ability to beat the world in making widgets and gadgets and stuff, we'd be doing it already; the European Union has, as far as I know, never stopped us innovating. Thatcher-era Conservatives did that without any external influences! But anyway, this road I'm travelling down leads me to all kinds of thoughts, epiphanies. Here's one.
It's all about imagination.
Without imagination, the daily paper's articles are statements of fact. Without an inquiring mind, the politician's repetitive soundbite directed against the common man becomes a thing to be savoured, the mere listening bring a sense of involvement. Without a thing to contrast against, those 'facts' become facts.
The imagination I'm thinking of isn't content to believe only a rosy future awaits. It weighs probabilities, examines history, and extrapolates. If the result looks bad it doesn't hide under a rock, it attempts to find solutions.
Now I'm a big fan of Star Trek, though even I cannot make the leap to a wholly utopian future United Kingdom, let alone a whole Earth. I'm not saying the current incarnation of the European Union is a precursor to a future without want, but it's a start.
I fully expect the Conservatives to be confirmed as the righteous guardians of Brexit in a few weeks. So I'm again voting Liberal Democrat.