Brexit endgame: MEPs vow to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘leave a light on’ for departing Britons as they prepare to sign off historic divorce deal with just TWO DAYS left until the UK leaves
The Brexit endgame is under way today as the European Parliament prepares to approve the historic divorce deal.
With just two days to go before the UK is finally due to leave the EU, MEPs in Brussels are due to ratify Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement in a highly symbolic moment.
British politicians have been clearing out their offices to depart for home, with distinctly varying emotions. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who has campaigned for decades to escape the shackles of the EU, said he would miss ‘playing the villain’.
But other MEPs have made no secret of their dismay, with some vowing to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in Parliament this evening and remaining members saying they will ‘leave a light on’ for when the UK rejoins.
The vote this evening, which is expected to be passed by a big majority, is the final formality before Brexit happens at 11pm on Friday night.
Legislation cleared Westminster last week, and the deal has already been signed by European Council chief Charles Michel, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and Mr Johnson in Downing Street.
The UK’s representative to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, this morning hand delivered the document notifying the bloc that ratification on this side of the Channel is complete.
Europhile MEPs have made no secret of their dismay over Brexit, with some vowing to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at Parliament this evening. There was a show of solidarity in Brussels last night as remaining politicians said they would ‘leave a light on’ for when the UK rejoins
The UK’s representative to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, this morning hand delivered the document notifying the bloc that ratification on this side of the Channel is complete
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who has campaigned for decades to escape the shackles of the EU, said he would miss ‘playing the villain’. He is pictured clearing out his Brussels office last night
The agreement settles the terms of Britain’s departure, including future citizens’ rights, the arrangements on the Northern Ireland border and the UK’s divorce settlement.
It also allows for an 11-month transition period, during which the UK will continue to follow EU rules while talks take place on a free trade agreement.
Mr Johnson has said he wants a comprehensive deal – covering all aspects of Britain’s future relationship with the EU, including security – by the end of the year.
He has been adamant that he will not contemplate any extension of the transition period beyond the end of 2020.
However, senior EU figures have repeatedly warned that reaching such a wide-ranging agreement will not be possible within such a tight timetable.
They have cautioned that the UK cannot expect to enjoy the ‘highest quality access’ to European markets if – as Mr Johnson is insisting – it refuses to align with EU rules after Brexit.
Boris Johnson formally signed the Withdrawal Agreement in Downing Street last week
The final official stages of the Brexit process are being completed ahead of the UK’ss departure from the EU on Friday night
Following the vote in the European Parliament, there will be a farewell ceremony for the British MEPs leaving for the last time.
With the UK’s instrument to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement due to be deposited with the EU on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it would be a ‘historic moment’.
‘It is the start of a new chapter for an independent, sovereign Britain, looking forward to a decade of renewal and opportunity,’ he said.
‘Whether we are reducing trade barriers between nations, tackling climate change, or improving lives around the world, our vision of a truly global Britain will be a force for good.’