Former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage breaks down the significant moment for the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union Friday, becoming the first country to exit in its 62-year history.

The departure comes more than three years after the country voted for Brexit and after two failed prime ministers. Britain officially departs the EU at 11 p.m. local time Friday.

The day should be markedly quiet for an event that has sparked heated debate on the island – and across the continent. Some Union Jack flags will be taken from European Union buildings in Brussels and ones near Parliament will be lit up in the county’s colors, but for many, the day could pass unnoticed.

Brexiter Nigel Farage plans to speak and sing patriotic songs in London’s Parliament Square, a scene Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who has been dogged by Brexit – plans to stay away from.

Brexit isn’t a celebration for the EU, which is losing one of its most powerful members.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly session of Prime Ministers Questions in Parliament in London, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.  (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Johnson has promised a “dignified exit” that is “mindful of everybody’s feelings.”

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday, “We will always love you and you will never be far.”


The June 2016 vote to leave the EU was a narrow 52 percent to 48 percent, and nearly four years later Johnson still presides over a deeply divided nation.

It has also brought Scotland, which voted by 62 percent to remain, closer to seeking independence.

British politicians struggled in the years since the vote to agree on what they wanted from Brexit – whether it would be a clean break or slower departure.

The remaining 27 EU nations led by negotiator Michael Barnier, did know what they wanted and a deal was finally struck in late 2018, which included the major UK concession of keeping an open border between the EU’s Republic of Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.

After the Brexit date was pushed back several times as both sides argued, many exhausted UK voters went with Johnson’s party in last month’s election because he promised he would get it done.

With a sizeable majority in Parliament, Brexit was finally rescheduled for Jan. 31., which is also the beginning of a transition period that will last through the end of the year.

Changes may appear small at first, and the UK will continue to follow EU rules and pay their coffers, as negotiations on trade and security, among other issues, will begin.

Johnson insists the transition period will be over before the end of the year, but the EU is more skeptical of that timetable, citing similar deals with Canada, Japan and South Korea that took years to settle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

‘I cried when Top of the Pops was cancelled’

I don’t think anything should be a guilty pleasure, but equally there are definitely shows that you can’t share with other people – the things, if someone asked what you were watching, you would throw your computer across the room.…

Kazakhstan: Over 100 detained in first protests since lockdown eased

Over 100 people were detained across authoritarian Kazakhstan Saturday in the first opposition protests since the government relaxed some lockdown restrictions. An AFP correspondent saw five demonstrators detained in central Almaty while witnesses said that around 70 were held in…

2020 on track to be one of the 3 warmest years on record

“Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020” is the headline of the newly released State of the Global Climate 2020 report from the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The report says 2020 is on track to be one of three warmest…

In Somalia, mothers fear sons were sent to Ethiopia conflict

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Pressure is growing on Somalia’s government amid allegations that Somali soldiers have been sent to fight in neighboring Ethiopia’s deadly Tigray conflict. Mothers have held rare protests in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere, demanding to know the…