Britain left the European Union on Friday after 47 years of membership, in a historic blow to the bloc. The U.K.'s departure became official at 11 pm (GMT), midnight in Brussels, where the EU is headquartered.
As the clock struck 11 pm GMT, Prime Minister Boris Johnson termed the moment "extraordinary turning point in the life of this country".
"Tonight we have left the EU - an extraordinary turning point in the life of this country. Let us come together now to make the most of all the opportunities Brexit will bring - and let's unleash the potential of the whole UK," Johnson tweeted.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation an hour before the deal came into effect. In a video, he said, "This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act in our great national drama. And yes it is partly about using these new powers – this recaptured sovereignty – to deliver the changes people voted for. Whether that is by controlling immigration or creating freeports or liberating our fishing industry or doing free trade deals. Or simply making our laws and rules for the benefit of the people of this country. And of course I think that is the right and healthy and democratic thing to do, because for all its strengths and for all its admirable qualities, the EU has evolved over 50 years in a direction that no longer suits this country. And that is a judgment that you, the people, have now confirmed at the polls.”
Britain's flag, the Union Jack was lowered from the European Union headquarters in Brussels hours before the deal came into effect.
The challenges that Europe faces, and the opportunities that it can grasp, have not changed because of #Brexit. As part of this, we want to have the best possible relationship with the UK. But it will never be as good as membership. #NewBeginnings 🇪🇺🇬🇧— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) January 31, 2020
Earlier in the day, EU President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that the Union will continue to work towards having the best relations with the UK, but it will not be as good as being a member.
À minuit, pour la première fois en 70 ans, un pays quittera l’Union européenne. C'est un signal d'alarme historique qui doit retentir dans chacun de nos pays. Message sur le Brexit : pic.twitter.com/JdUn8rhuCp— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 31, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron also gave an address where he said, "The Brexit campaign in 2016 was made up of lies, exaggerations and simplifications. We must always remember what lies can lead to in our democracies. More than ever we need Europe. Facing China or the United States, facing the climate transition, we need more Europe. To be able to feed ourselves, to face the great transformations, we need more Europe. Europe can only continue to move forward if we reform it in depth to make it more sovereign, more democratic, closer to our fellow citizens and therefore also simpler in its daily life."