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Boris Johnson to hail ‘dawn of new era’ as UK leaves EU

By IANS Updated: Jan 31, 2020 11:10 pm
A woman holds up the Union and the European Union flags during an event called “Brussels calling” to celebrate the friendship between Belgium and Britain at the Grand Place in Brussels on Thursday. (AP/PTI)

London, Jan. 31 (IANS): British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hail the “dawn of a new era” at 11 p.m. on Friday when the UK will leave the European Union (EU).

Bonds dating back to 1973 when the UK joined the European Economic Community will be broken later in the night, but Johnson has insisted that Brexit marked “not an end but a beginning”, the Metro newspaper said in a report.

Very little will change at the moment of Brexit as a result of the deal which Johnson agreed with Brussels and the 27 remaining member states.

Most EU laws will continue to be in force, including the free movement of people, until the end of December, by which time the UK aims to have reached a permanent free trade agreement with the EU.

In a symbolic move, Boris Johnson on Friday morning will chair a meeting of his Cabinet in Sunderland, the city which was the first to back Brexit when results were announced after the historic 2016 referendum.

And later he will deliver an “address to the nation” an hour before the UK leaves the EU.

As 11 p.m. arrives, Big Ben will remain silent, despite a high-profile campaign, fuelled by Johnson, for repair works to be halted to allow Parliament’s bell to ring.

But on Parliament Square, Brexiteers will gather for a party led by Nigel Farage, while Union flags were already flying around Westminster, the Metro report added.

In official events, Downing Street will be illuminated with a light show and a new 50 p coin will enter circulation.

In Brussels, the UK flag will be removed from the EU institutions, with one Union flag expected to be consigned to a museum.

In Scotland, which voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum, candlelit vigils are planned.

On Thursday, outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged the country not to “turn inwards” and instead “build a truly internationalist, diverse and outward-looking Britain”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby told the BBC: “We must be united in a common vision for our country, however great our differences on achieving it – a common hope for what we want to happen, and what we want to do in the years to come.”

Brexit was originally scheduled for March 29, 2019 but was repeatedly delayed when MPs rejected a previous withdrawal agreement reached by the EU and former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Johnson was able to get his own deal through Parliament after winning the December 12, 2019 general election with a House of Commons majority of 80, on a pledge to “get Brexit done”.

This brought to an end more than three years of political wrangling, following the referendum of 2016, in which 52 per cent of voters backed leaving the EU.

Chronology of Brexit

Following is the chronology of Brexit as the UK is set to leave the European Union, more than three and a half years since the country voted for it in a referendum in 2016.

  • January 23, 2013: Prime Minister David Cameron promises an in-out referendum on EU membership if his Conservative Party wins the 2015 General Election.
  • May 7, 2015: The Conservatives make sweeping gains over the Labour Party and secure a majority in the House of Commons.
  • June 23, 2016: The UK votes in a crucial referendum to leave the EU with 52 per cent of the public supporting Brexit. David Cameron, resign as prime minister.
  • July 13, 2016: Theresa May wins the Conservative Party leadership contest and becomes prime minister
  • March 29, 2017: May sends a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, triggering Article 50. It sets the date for the UK’s departure in two years’ time: March 29, 2019.
  • April 18, 2017: May announces a snap general election in the UK, to be held on June 8.
  • June 8, 2017: May loses her Commons majority after her election gamble backfires.
  • July 17, 2017: Brexit talks officially get underway in Brussels between EU and UK negotiators.
  • March 19, 2018: The UK and EU publish a draft agreement on Britain’s withdrawal. But the agreement is not totally agreed.
  • July 6, 2018: Prime Minister May unveils to her Cabinet her much-awaited Chequers plan.
  • July 8, 2018: The UK’s Brexit minister David Davis resigns in protest. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson follows suit.
  • November 15 2018: Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit Secretary.
  • November 25, 2018: The 27 European Union leaders endorse the Brexit deal.
  • December 13, 2018: Prime Minister May survives a vote of confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party.
  • January 15, 2019: MPs reject May’s Brexit plans by an emphatic 432 votes to 202 in a historic vote.
  • March 12, 2019: MPs again reject the Government’s Brexit deal by 391 votes to 242.
  • March 20, 2019: May asks the EU to delay Brexit from March 29 until June 30.
  • March 29, 2019: MPs reject May’s Withdrawal Agreement by 286 votes to 344, majority 58, on the day when the UK was due to leave the European Union.
  • April 10, 2019: EU press on a flexible extension to Brexit is agreed until October 31.
  • May 24, 2019: May announces she is standing down as Tory party leader on June 7.
  • June 7, 2019: May officially steps down as Tory leader.
  • July 23 2019: Boris Johnson is elected as leader of the Conservative Party and becomes the UK’s new Prime Minister.
  • August 28, 2019: The UK Parliament is prorogued, or suspended, for five weeks, upon advice given to Queen Elizabeth II by Johnson’s government.
  • September 3, 2019: 21 rebel Conservative MPs vote against the government in protest at its Brexit strategy of driving the UK towards an exit from the EU by October 31.
  • October 3, 2019: The UK government sends a new Brexit plan to Brussels.
  • October 17, 2019: The UK and EU announce dramatically that they have struck a new Brexit deal, ahead of a Brussels summit.
  • October 19, 2019: At a special Saturday sitting, British MPs withhold their approval for the deal until laws implementing Brexit are in place.
  • October 22, 2019: Boris Johnson puts Brexit legislation on pause, citing MPs’ obstacles.
  • October 28, 2019: The EU agrees to offer the UK a Brexit flex tension until January 31.
  • October 29, 2019: The House of Commons approves a general election on December 12.
  • December 12, 2019: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives wins General Elections and gain an 80-seat majority in the Commons.
  • January 23, 2020: The UK’s EU Withdrawal bill becomes law, after a relatively smooth passage through Parliament.
  • January 29, 2020: The European Parliament approves the Brexit divorce deal under which the UK will leave the EU on 2300 GMT on January 31.
By IANS Updated: Jan 31, 2020 11:10:34 pm