The group of jubilant Brexiteers – led by former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe – marched across the Place du Luxembourg in the Belgian capital on Friday morning, accompanied by a bagpiper playing the military tune ‘Cock o’ the North’ to add to the triumphalist atmosphere.

They momentarily stopped to pose for the TV cameras and photographers, putting up their Brexit Party umbrellas, before Widdecombe waved goodbye in a taxi, Union Jack in hand.

One of Widdecombe’s colleagues in Brussels, Nathan Gill, was heard telling the bagpiper Ben Buckland, a former UKIP candidate: “It was like storming the beaches all over again.” Gill’s comment evoked rhetoric from wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who famously declared in 1940 “We shall fight on the beaches.”

Widdecombe had earlier told reporters that “Today we celebrate the beginning of our independence,” saying that her Brexit Party believe “Britain can now go forward into the future rejoicing.”

On Wednesday Brexit Party leader and MEP Nigel Farage gave his final speech in the European Parliament, denouncing the EU as an anti-democratic experiment. He finished his speech by waving the Union Jack to cheers from his UK colleagues, who joined in as he said goodbye.

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