In historic moment, Britain leaves EU tonight after 47 years with party, protest
London, Jan. 31, 2020 (AltAfrica)-BRITAIN leaves the European Union tonight in a moment set to be marked with parties and protests, as prime minister, Boris Johnson hails ‘the dawn of a new era’.
The PM will today chair a cabinet meeting in Sunderland, where the first pro-Brexit results were declared after the referendum 1,317 days ago.
Then, in a recorded speech to be broadcast an hour before the bitterly divisive departure is sealed at 11pm, he will vow to the nation to restore unity.
At Parliament Square, Brexiteers will gather for a party led by Nigel Farage. Bur in Scotland, which voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum, candlelit vigils are planned.
The Leave a Light On gatherings are taking place in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, and Stirling, among other locations.
Participants intend to send a message to the EU to keep open a place for Scotland.
In Brussels, the UK flag will be removed from the EU institutions, with one Union flag expected to be consigned to a museum.
The Belgian capital has already dressed its famous Mannekin Pis statue of a urinating boy in a John Bull costume, complete with Union flag waistcoat.
In official events, Downing Street will be illuminated with a light show and a new 50p coin will enter circulation.
Boris Johnson will say on Friday that Brexit signals “the dawn of a new era” as his government prepares for a low-key celebration at the moment of departure.
The prime minister is expected to mark the moment at 11pm with a pre-recorded video message promising to bring the country together and seek to eradicate inequalities between regions.
Before the announcement, Downing Street acknowledged that businesses and travellers would be facing stricter border controls if the UK moves away from regulatory alignment with the EU.
“This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act,” Johnson will say, according to snippets released in advance by Downing Street. “This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances – your family’s life chances – should depend on which part of the country you grow up in.”
Friday night will bring very little in the way of tangible change, as the UK will move straight into a transition period involving continued EU rules to the end of 2020.
On Thursday Downing Street reiterated the message that UK firms would then face extra paperwork and checks on goods at cross-channel borders under Johnson’s plans to diverge from EU standards.
This will be seen as a significant starting point for trade talks with the EU, which has consistently demanded alignment on regulations in exchange for zero tariffs and quotas – a so-called “level playing field”.
The prime minister’s spokesman said businesses should expect to face “extra processes” and not accept anything that makes the country a “rule-taker”.
He said: “The manifesto on which the government was elected was very clear that there will be no alignment. We have always been very clear that we are leaving the EU’s customs union and single market and that means that businesses will have to prepare for life outside of these. The manifesto spelled out those two things very clearly.”
Johnson is due to make a speech early next week setting out plans for future trade arrangements.
UK nationals are being advised to expect new arrangements for travelling to the EU next year. A page of official government advice says people taking pets should start planning four months in advance, while drivers will need insurance documentation, and mobile phone roaming charges could return.
One change that is definitely happening on Friday night is the disappearance of the Department for Exiting the European Union. Its offices inside the Cabinet Office will be vacated and civil servants moved to other departments after a final visit of thanks from Johnson.
Guardian UK, ES, Metro UK