UK leaves EU, PM Boris calls for country to ‘level up’ – Times of India

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to say Brexit was a historic opportunity to unleash the country’s full potential during a pre-recorded address to the nation broadcast on social media and TV one hour before Britain finally left the EU on Friday night.
After discussing the coronavirus outbreak at a Cabinet meeting in Sunderland, the first city to declare support for leaving the EU in the 2016 Referendum, the PM was due to say: “Our job as the government – my job – is to bring this country together and take us forward. This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances should depend on which part of the country you grow up in. This is the moment when we begin to unite and level up.”
With Big Ben unable to bong at 11 pm local time (4.30am IST) because of restoration work, the precise moment of Britain’s departure was instead marked by a clock projected onto the walls of Downing Street. No 10 also marked the hour of departure with a light display focused on Union Jack colours, whilst buildings around Whitehall were also lit up at 11pm. Union Jacks flew on all of the flag poles in Parliament Square on Friday, whilst in Brussels the UK flag was being removed from EU institutions.
The UK now has 11 months to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU. Johnson is seeking an EU-Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU that includes services.
Three million new commemorative 50p coins came into circulation on Friday to mark the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The 50p piece bears the inscription “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” and the departure date, January 31. Commemorative coins went on sale on the Royal Mint website at midnight on Thursday, which crashed due to high demand. Limited edition gold versions of the coin worth £945 (Rs 88,000) sold out within hours.
Thousands of people were expected to descend on Parliament Square for a party on Friday night, at which the proponents of Brexit, leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage and celebrity former MEP Anne Widdecombe, were among those scheduled to make speeches.
Brexit parties also took place in pubs, university bars, Conservative clubs and people’s houses up and down the country.
Electronic engineer Ian Prowse and his wife Tricia Prowse hosted a private Brexit commemoration dinner party for 10 guests at their Somerset house on Friday night. The guests were a mix of Remainers and Leavers. Union Jack and EU flags were positioned on the dinner table. “It’s not to celebrate, it is to commemorate the occasion,” Prowse said. “We are having Eastern Mediterranean food from Turkey and Africa and Southern Hemisphere wines from Chile and Australia, as well as English sparkling wine. That’s to show there are global trade opportunities and it is not the end of the world. I think there are still divisions over Brexit but there is no choice now, you either agree with democracy or you don’t,” he said.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said this week that the UK would be “at the front of the line” for a transatlantic trade deal. “Whilst originally there was considerable concern as to the potential impact of Brexit on the UK’s financial services sector — in recent months there has been a growing acceptance that there could be a significant upside of not being aligned with the EU,” said Alan Farkas, partner at law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

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