Brits Googled 'What is the EU?' AFTER Brexit vote to Leave

Brits took to Google to search for information about the EU after the country had narrowly voted to leave.
Brits took to Google to search for information about the EU after the country had narrowly voted to leave.

Google searches around the EU referendum spiked after the result was announced - with Brits wondering what the vote meant, and even what the EU was.

Here are the four most-searched questions on Google in the UK following the vote, and answers to them.

1. What does it mean to leave the EU?

In basic terms, Britain's vote to leave means it will no longer be part of a single market which allows free trade and the free movement of people across its member states.

However, what will replace the status quo is far from clear - it is now up to the UK Government and the EU to negotiate the terms of a new relationship.

2. What is the EU?

The EU (short for European Union) is a group of countries that trade within a single market and adhere to a set of common laws.

It was formed in 1993, but can be traced back to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and European Economic Community (EEC), formed by six countries in 1951 and 1958.

Britain joined the EEC in January 1973 and was a founding member of the EU.

3. Which countries are in the EU?

The EU now features 28 member states, though this will fall to 27 when the UK votes to leave.

Current members are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The EU is not to be confused the eurozone - the area that uses the euro as its currency. This features 19 countries - the above minus Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the UK.

4. What will happen now we've left the EU?

This is a difficult one to answer definitively. To kick the process off, Britain must enable Article 50 of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism by which Britain or any other member state can leave the EU.

This gives two years to negotiate the terms of any new relationship, and the settlement must be agreed by the remaining EU member states and by the European Parliament.

David Cameron has signalled that he will leave his successor to begin this procedure, while Boris Johnson - viewed by some as a likely next prime minister - has said there is no "haste" to do so.

In the meantime, there is uncertainty about what the wider impact of Brexit will be. Stock markets and the British currency have both fallen in response to the vote.

Politically, the resignation of David Cameron means there will be a leadership election within the Conservative Party, and a possible general election following that.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish government is to begin legislating for another independence referendum after Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favour of Remain, while Sinn Fein has called for a vote on Irish unity after Northern Ireland backed staying in the EU.