BREXIT: THE CURTAIN FALLS AS UK LEAVES THE EUROPEAN UNION

BREXIT: THE CURTAIN FALLS AS UK LEAVES THE EUROPEAN UNION

Britain brings down the curtain on 47 years of European Union membership on Friday with little in the way of official ceremony to mark the historic moment.

Some 1,317 days after the 2016 referendum vote to Leave, the formal departure from the 28-nation bloc will take place at 11pm UK time – midnight in Brussels.

Boris Johnson, who served as the figurehead of the Vote Leave campaign and last Friday signed the withdrawal treaty after its passage through parliament, said the day would signal “the dawn of a new era”.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the country stood at “a crossroads” with many of the most important decisions about its future relations with the EU and the wider world yet to be made.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

And Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, is expected to say that Scotland is being taken out of the EU against the wishes of the “overwhelming majority” of its people, in a speech setting out the next steps in her battle for an independence referendum.

Downing Street made clear the prime minister will not be making any public appearance to celebrate the moment of withdrawal.

Supporters of Brexit will welcome the accomplishment of their long-cherished goal with a rally in Parliament Square, where they are promised speeches from Nigel Farage and Anne Widdecombe as well as patriotic songs.

But there will be no chimes from Big Ben, no fireworks and no alcohol allowed on an evening forecast to be chilly and damp.

Following the ratification of Mr Johnson’s withdrawal agreement by parliaments in Westminster and Brussels, the UK is required to hand over more than £30bn to settle liabilities, guarantee rights to EU expats living in Britain and establish a customs border down the Irish Sea. It will lose all representation in EU decision-making institutions, but will remain subject to EU rules during a transition period lasting until the end of December.

The Department for Exiting the EU will cease to exist at 11pm on Friday, with staff redistributed to ministries across Whitehall. But members of the public are not expected to notice any immediate change to everyday life while the transition takes place.

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