'Brexit Day' steps into transition twilight zone

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on January 31, 2020 - Duration: 01:29s

'Brexit Day' steps into transition twilight zone

After years of wait, the day has finally come.

The United Kingdom leaves the European Union for an uncertain Brexit future, the most significant change to its place in the world since the loss of empire and a blow to 70 years of efforts to forge European unity from the ruins of war.

Ciara Lee reports

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'Brexit Day' steps into transition twilight zone

Brexit day... he countdown nearly over.

The U.K. slipping away an hour before midnight Friday, from the club it joined in 1973, moving into the no man's land of a transition period.

There were mixed headlines across Britain's newspapers "A new dawn for Britain" read one, while another simply said '"Small Island." Messages too, projected onto to the White Cliffs of Dover from British war veterans against Brexit.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) 97-YEAR-OLD WAR VETERAN, BRIGADIER STEPHEN GOODALL, SAYING: "I like to be called a European." (SOUNDBITE) (English) 95-YEAR-OLD WAR VETERAN, SID, SAYING: "First of all I'm Welsh, and I'm British, and I'm European and I'm a human being." Across the water in France, the front pages focused on the final countdown, with headlines such as "It's time" and "Europe without them." Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar was one of the first leaders on Friday to bid farewell.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER LEO VARADKAR, SAYING: "We do hope it works out for them, but if it does not, there will always be a seat for the United Kingdom at the European table." That table is about to be starved of 15 percent of its economy, its biggest military spender and the world's international financial capital of London.

Brexiteers hope independence will bring democratic and economic reforms that will reshape the UK, propelling it ahead of its European rivals.

For now though, the symbolism of Brexit is the focus.

The Union Jack in the building of the European Council in Brussels will be lowered on Friday and put away with the flags of non-EU countries.

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