British MEPs have been packing up their belongings ready to be shipped out of Brussels at the end of the week.
Cardboard boxes, souvenirs and stationary are being gathered together ready to be taken back to the UK as Britain’s 47-year membership officially comes to an end.
With the Brexit departure set for 11pm on Friday, some UK politicians at the European Parliament in Brussels who have been fervent Brexiteers were wasting no time getting ready to get out the door.
Nigel Farage’s office on Tuesday was a jumble of boxes and mementos ready to be packed and shipped.
The former Ukip and Brexit Party leader was packing his possessions and taking pictures off the walls this week as the British exodus from Brussels reached its final stages.
But as the arch-Brexiteer who has long called for Britain to leave the bloc began to clear his office, he admitted he will miss his role in the EU and even its base in part-time Strasbourg – especially the food.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage packs his items in his office at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday
Farage packs his items in his office in Brussels, including paintings and souvenirs from his long career in the European Parliament
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage in his office at the European Parliament in Brussels as British MEPs began clearing their offices ahead of Brexit
Personal items on a desk in Nigel Farage’s office including a cartoon depicting the Brexit Party leader at the European Parliament in Brussels
Farage said he will also miss ‘playing the villain’, as he often addressed the parliament chamber to lambaste his fellow MEPs and criticise the bureaucracy of the EU.
He said: ‘I’ll miss some of the fun, some of the theatre. I’ll miss being the pantomime villain, which I’ve been many times. This has been a massive chapter of my life.’
During his 20-year career as an MEP, Farage has long campaigned for Britain to leave the EU, spearheading a campaign that led to Britain’s exit vote in 2016.
More than three years since the referendum, Britain’s exit will happen quietly at midnight in Brussels, but with great fanfare in London’s Parliament Square at a party he promised would bring together more than 30,000 people.
Farage and 72 other Britons will attend their last plenary session of the 751-seat European Parliament this week.
On Friday morning, a group of Brexit Party lawmakers will march out of the modernist assembly building with a Union Jack to mark the end of Britain’s 47 years as a member of the EU.
Britain’s Brexit vote was a triumph for Farage, a former commodities trader who become an abrasive anti-immigration politician, tapping into a deep well of popular anger in Britain that rivals failed to understand.
A colourful character who is often pictured holding a pint of beer, 55-year-old Farage’s acerbic euro-scepticism was the bane of committed Europeans in Brussels.
Nigel Farage has started removing personal items from his Brussels office. During his 20-year career as an MEP, he had long campaigned for Britain to leave the EU
Nigel Farage wore Union flag socks ready for Wednesday’s plenary when the EU parliament should overwhelmingly approve the Brexit withdrawal agreement
British European Parliament member and leader of Labour Party delegation Richard Corbett holding a scarf as he packs some of his belongings at his office at the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday
British European Parliament member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Judith Kirton-Darling packing some of her belongings at her office in Brussels on Monday
He once he told then-European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to his face that he had ‘the charisma of a damp rag’ and the ‘appearance of a low-grade bank clerk’.
Farage added that although he has sought to disrupt the EU from within over the past two decades, the European Parliament would be a duller place without him and lawmakers from the 27 other EU countries may miss the publicity he brought for their assembly.
His favourite souvenir in his Brussels office is a framed Economist cover with him, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin marching to the big drums of populism.
‘It’s not meant to be flattering, but in a sense, what it sums up is the great battle that’s going on’, Farage said.
He was still wearing his Union Jack socks, ready for Wednesday’s plenary when the EU parliament should overwhelmingly approve the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the last act needed before the UK leaves on Friday.
Downstairs in the parliamentary halls, some fans of the Brexit party, also dressed in British colours were posing among the flags of the member states, laughing and shouting at anyone wanting to hear how the EU was ‘a dictatorship’.
Yet for most of the parliament’s politicians and many of the departing British representatives, the EU remains one of the greatest experiments in peace-building and democracy following the devastation across Europe from the Second World War.
Among the British backers of the EU are members of the Green party, who lit lights outside the European Parliament against the darkening sky, a symbolic ‘We’ll leave a light on’ action in case British politicians ever do return to Brussels.
Britain’s Green party MEP Magid Magid packing up his office at the European Parliament in Brussels this week
Britain’s Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox is one of 72 other UK MEPs leaving Brussels this week
Greens/EFA party members of European Parliament holding a banner, as they take part in a symbolic demonstration to mark the departure of the UK from the EU in front of the European Parliament on Tuesday
For a more official occasion, EU Parliament chief David Sassoli will bid the UK a formal farewell during Wednesday’s plenary, where the Brexit vote will take place.
Even the UK’s representation offices will change their name and become the UK Mission to the European Union.
For insiders, UKReps will become UKMis, and they will still be just as busy, since both Britain and the EU still need to figure their future relationship and trade deals.
One thing is sure though, said Mr Farage: ‘We’re passing the point of no return. We’re leaving. We’re never coming back.’
Farage has even boasted his Brexit Party had helped Boris Johnson become Britain’s prime minister last year, and since then the Conservative Party leader had adopted policies and rhetoric that he had used for 25 years.
After Friday, Britain will enter an 11-month transition period during which it faces tough negotiations with the EU on everything from trade regulations to fishing rights to establish a future relationship.
‘In this negotiation, we’ve got a much stronger hand than they have,’ he said. ‘We’ve got Germany petrified of us becoming a competitor on their doorstep.’
Farage said that however the haggling between London and Brussels turns out, there will be no going back on Brexit, a course of action that for Britain’s place in the world marked the biggest change since Henry VIII left the Church of Rome 500 years ago.
‘And I say that not even tongue in cheek’, Farage added.
People walking down a main avenue in the EU Quarter of Brussels. The UK is due to leave the EU on Friday, the first nation in the bloc to do so