The United Kingdom has left the European Union

One week before the planned Brexit date, a couple of unsmiling photos shared on social media announced the signature of the agreement on the UK withdrawal from the European Union.

The UK parliament had concluded the procedure to turn the deal into national law on Wednesday 22 Januar, the Queen given Royal Assent the next day. On Friday 24 January EU Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen formally signed the agreement, which was then sent to London for the signature of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It was the last frantic hours of the UK membership of the European Union. The signature of the withdrawal agreement concluded three years of negotiations on the terms of the UK departure. “At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line,” said Boris Johnson in Westminster. “But we’ve done it! Now we can put the rancor and division of the past three years behind us.”

The very final steps were the adoption of the deal by the European Parliament and the Council (the latter with a written procedure). Following an emotional debate in Brussels, the plenary passed the agreement with 683 votes in favour, 49 against and 13 abstensions. After the vote, MEPs joined hands to sing Auld Lang Syne, a Scottish goodbye song, and bid farewell to UK members (full video here).

After 47 years, the UK left the European Union on the midnight (Brussels time) of 31 January 2020.

Brexit supporters gathered outside the UK parliament in Westminster to celebrate the moment, while the government projected a Brexit countdown on 10 Downing Street.

There was no fanfare in Brussels while the British flag was taken down from EU buildings and sent to the Museum of European History.

Gibraltar also took down the EU flag.

While Scotland kept celebrating Europe.

And these were less formal goodbyes…

Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.

This article was originally published on January 26 and was updated on February 1 following Brexit. Photo by Etienne Ansotte, copyright European Union, 2020.

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