Speed Reads

Brexit

Britain celebrates and mourns on Brexit Day, its final day of EU membership

Three and a half years after narrowly voting to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom is celebrating and mourning its final day of EU membership Friday before leaving the union at 11 p.m., or midnight in Brussels. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the nation at 10 p.m. to inaugurate what he will call "a moment of real national renewal and change." Britain and the EU have agreed that the U.K. will retain all EU rules for 11 months while the two sides try to hammer out a new trade relationship and other guidelines for their new relationship.

But Britain remains sharply divided on Brexit, with larger cities, Northern Ireland, and especially Scotland still in favor of remaining in the EU. In Edinburgh, where the EU flag will remain raised outside the Scottish Parliament on Friday night and the EU colors blue and yellow will light up two government buildings, Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell urged the EU to "leave a light on for Scotland" so it could return, presumably as an independent country.

EU officials were generally cordial about the divorce, as in this tweet from former European Council president Donald Tusk of Poland.

Current European Council {resident Charles Michel called Brexit Day "an exceptional day for the European Union and today probably we have mixed feelings." He added that "it's never a happy moment when someone leaves but we are opening a new chapter. And we will devote all our energy to building a stronger and more ambitious European Union." How close a relationship the EU has with the U.K. will depend on Britain, he said.

Brexit supporters including Nigel Farage are gathering in London's Parliament Square for a celebratory festival of patriotic songs and speeches.

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Britain joined the European bloc in 1973.