British PM Boris Johnson hails UK's 'new beginning' as Brexit day arrives
NEW DELHI [Maha Meda]: Britain begins the day as a member of the European Union. Its status at the end of the day — as a proud nation that has reclaimed its sovereignty, or a diminished presence in Europe and the world — will still be up for debate.
Britain oicially departs the EU at 11 pm local time Friday, midnight in Brussels (2300 GMT, 6 pm EST). The departure comes 3½ years aer the country voted by a margin of 52%-48% to walk away from the club that it had joined in 1973.
It's the first time a country has le the EU, and many in the bloc regard it as a sad day. In Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen are due to sketch out the EU's first steps as a group of 27, rather than 28.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to meet in the morning with his Cabinet in the pro-Brexit town of Sunderland, in northeast England.
He is scheduled to deliver a televised address to the country an hour before departure, calling Brexit "not an end but a beginning."
According to his office, he will describe it as "a moment of real national renewal and change." The government hopes the moment will be marked in a dignified, nontriumphalist fashion, with red, white and blue lights illuminating government buildings and a countdown clock projected onto the prime minister's 10 Downing St. residence.
Some Brexit supporters will be holding more raucous celebrations. Arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage and his band of devotees will gather for patriotic songs and speeches in London's Parliament Square to mark a moment that even Farage sometimes doubted would ever come.