ON BOARD THE EUROSTAR (Reuters) – On the last train to Europe before Britain left the EU on Friday evening, passengers leaving London expressed sorrow, optimism and anger, reflecting the emotions of a nation conflicted ahead its great leap into the unknown.
People board a Eurostar train that travels from London to Paris, in London, Britain, January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic
Martin Kavanagh, a security consultant, crammed his tall frame into a window seat and contemplated Britain’s uncertain journey ahead after ending 47 years of European Union membership.
“It is just the saddest day, ever,” he said, heading for Paris to watch England play France at rugby. “It sends a message to the rest of the world that we are turning inwards when we should be looking out.”
Bayan Patel, a 27-year-old British dentist on the way to Paris for a short break with his Spanish fiancee, said Britain’s distinctiveness should be celebrated and there is too much pessimism about Brexit.
“We can stand on our two feet,” he said. “Leaving the EU might turn out to be a fantastic decision. Right now people are focusing too much on the negatives.”
The last Eurostar before Britain’s historic exit left London’s St Pancras station at 8:10 GMT on Friday.
There were no extra checks at customs. A transition period preserves Britain’s EU membership in all but name until 2021.
There were no protests, celebrations or tears on the journey. There was no official announcement over the intercom as the train went into the tunnel under the Channel.
Many passengers said this felt like just another train ride. But it was not.
The Britain the