Britain has left the EU – page 1
Great Britain is no longer a member of the European Union. The United Kingdom launched Brexit at midnight, making it the first member country to leave the EU – more than three and a half years after the Brexit referendum. The country was the EEC, the predecessor of the EU, in 1973
joined. At the Brexit referendum 2016, a majority had for the
Exit voted. In a transition phase until the end of the year, future relations between the EU and Great Britain are to be negotiated.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a speech to the nation shortly before the official exit United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum to make it an "incredible success". According to Johnson, Brexit offers the opportunity to "unleash Britain's full potential". He spoke of a "new era of friendly cooperation" with the European Union that is now beginning. The road ahead of Great Britain may be bumpy, but the exit offers the chance for "astonishing success".
Johnson said leaving the EU was "not an end to the kingdom, but a beginning." For many people, this was "an amazing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come," said Johnson. Of course there are also many who feel "a feeling of fear and loss". "And then there is a third group, perhaps the largest, that has been concerned that the whole political dispute would never end," said Johnson. He understood all of these feelings.
Macron speaks of a "historical alarm sign"
His government's job now is to bring the country back together and move it forward, Johnson added. The EU has many "admirable qualities", but in the past decades it has developed in a direction "that no longer fits this country".
The head of the Brexit party, Nigel Farage, celebrated the exit with hundreds of supporters on the square in front of the parliament. No alcohol was allowed to be served there. But Union Jack flags were waving for it and there was cheering. At times, the atmosphere was also aggressive and EU flags were set on fire or trampled on.
French head of state Emmanuel Macron called the exit from the EU a "historical alarm signal". "It's a sad day," Macron said in a short-term speech to his fellow citizens. He called for further reforms of the EU – so far it has not been possible to change Europe sufficiently. Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed the desire for a close relationship with the British when Britain left the UK. "This is a deep cut for all of us," she said in her podcast.
The farewell of the 66 million British is a hard blow for the EU. It loses its second largest economy. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, however, was optimistic about the upcoming negotiations with the British: "We are going into these negotiations in the spirit that old friends are looking for a new start," she said during a joint appearance with the EU Council head Charles Michel and President of Parliament David Sassoli. The three presidents wrote in a guest article that appeared in many European newspapers that they would be able to build a "lasting, positive and meaningful partnership" with good will. They added: "Without a level playing field in terms of environment, work, taxes and state aid, there can be no qualitatively unrestricted access to the internal market."
The presidents of the three top EU institutions were also self-critical when they came together – after all, Great Britain is the first country in history to leave the international community. As a lesson from Brexit, the EU will seek more support from its citizens and make the value of the project more visible in everyday life, said Michel. Nevertheless, they emphasized the EU's self-confidence. "The story doesn't end here," said Sassoli. No state can master the challenges such as digitization or climate change on its own as well as together. Von der Leyen said the EU could be proud of itself given its historic success.