LONDON (Reuters) – Singing patriotic songs and waving Union Jacks, thousands of Britons flocked to a muddy patch of grass outside parliament on a damp Friday night to toast their moment of history: Britain’s departure from the European Union.
People celebrate Britain leaving the EU on Brexit day in London, Britain, January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Britain’s exit from the EU ends 47 years of union with Europe. It also draws a line under a bitter and divisive wrangle over whether, when and how the country should cut its ties to the bloc.
While Prime Minister Boris Johnson kept a low profile at a private reception in his Downing Street office, more than 5,000 people gathered just down the road to loudly celebrate the moment.
The crowd erupted into cheers as the clock hit 11 p.m. (2300 GMT), the moment of Britain’s exit. After a barrage of fireworks, smoke filled the area as onlookers hugged, popped champagne corks and filmed the moment on their phones.
“This is a fantastic day, a really really fantastic day. It’s been a long time coming,” said Tony Williams, 53, from south-east London.
“We are free, from 11 o’clock, we have done it, and it is a great, great pleasure. We have done it.”
Brexit supporters young and old packed into Parliament Square to hear Brexit’s other talisman, campaigner Nigel Farage, and revel in a mix of nostalgia, patriotism and defiance.
“We did it. We transformed the landscape of our country,” Farage told the crowd. “We are celebrating tonight because we know that this is the single most important moment in the modern history of our g