Brexit day: UK finally leaves the European Union
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed in a pre-recorded video address that the British government would use all the authority it has to make the United Kingdom a more equal and dynamic place after Brexit, Sputnik reports.
On 31 Friday January 2020 at 23:00 GMT, the United Kingdom left the EU in accordance with the withdrawal agreement that was signed last week. The exit is followed by an 11-month transition period so that both London and Brussels can settle pending economic issues, the most pressing of which are future trade relations.
In a pre-recorded address broadcast an hour before Britain's historic exit from the bloc, Johnson said Brexit is a chance to make Britain a better place.
"The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning. For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come. And there are many, of course, who feel a sense of anxiety and loss. And then there's a third group, perhaps the biggest, who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end. I understand all those feelings, and our job as the government -- my job -- is to bring this country together now and take us forward", Johnson said.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, and President of the European Parliament David Sassoli wrote an op-ed ahead of the UK's official exit from the EU, assuring that Brussels will continue to work together with London on various issues even after Brexit.
During the transition period, the UK will remain part of EU trade deals but will be able to negotiate new trade deals with other countries and with the bloc itself. In addition to trade, the UK and the EU will have to hammer out the details of their relationship in other sectors, like security and fishing rights.
According to Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator for Brexit, 11 months may not be enough to agree on all aspects of the future relationship.
The sentiment among Britons is mixed, because during the lengthy, almost four-year uncertainty that followed the Brexit referendum, both London and Brussels went from lively interest in withdrawal talks to a sort of Brexit fatigue. But the European Parliament on Wednesday bid farewell to Britain with a heartfelt rendition of the song "Auld Lang Syne" after approving the withdrawal agreement.