Brexit Day ‘Emotional’ says Ursula von der Leyen
It’s been three long years since the United Kingdom went to the polls and voted in favour of leaving the European Union, and today, Brexit day has finally dawned.
At midnight tonight, Central European Time, the UK will leave the European Union after a decades-long alliance with the bloc. The UK first joined the European Economic Community in 1972.
Speaking to BBC news today, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, described it as an ‘emotional day.’
She paid tribute to the citizens of the UK saying, that for over almost half a century they ‘contributed to the European Union and made it stronger.’
She said, ‘It is the story of old friends and new beginnings now, and therefore it is an emotional day but I’m looking forward to the next stage.’
The Withdrawal Agreement under which Brexit has taken place allows for a transition period to the end of 2020. The most significant immediate change will be the loss of UK voting rights at the EU table, with the country no longer having a say in shaping EU policy.
Since the UK Brexit referendum in 2016, the country has seen three Prime Ministers and two general elections.
Brexit was due to go ahead in March of last year, however, this deadline was repeatedly extended due to ongoing rejections from Members of Parliament in the UK to the terms of the Withdrawal Bill negotiated by then Prime Minister Theresa May.
Following Mrs. May’s step-down as Prime Minister, Boris Johnsen was elected Conservative party leader in July 2019 and became Prime Minister.
A summer of discontent followed as Prime Minister Johnson promised to complete Brexit by October.
This was stopped by the actions of a group of rebel Conservative party members who voted against the Government due to its Brexit strategy. Johnson dispelled them from the Party.
The Benn bill was passed in September which prohibited the UK from leaving the EU without an agreement, without the consent of the UK Parliament.
Following meetings between the UK Prime Minister and Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, the EU and the UK announced that they had hammered out a new deal and compromise had been reached on the issue of the Ireland/Northern Ireland border.
A further Brexit-extension was sought in October as MPs in Britain withheld their approval on the new deal until laws to implement Brexit were put in place.
A General Election was called for December with Mr. Johnson’s Conservatives winning a landslide victory.
On January 23rd the UK’s EU Withdrawal Bill became law. The European Parliament approved the deal on January 29th allowing for Brexit on January 31st.
Prime Minister Johnson said on Twitter today, ‘As we build a new relationship with the EU, I urge everyone to find closure and let the healing begin.’
(Image by Cristian Ferronato via pixabay.com)