Brexit becomes a reality four years after the referendum in the UK and a week after an agreement was reached with the EU.
Britain on Thursday officially left the European Union and going its own way four-and-a-half years after its shock vote to leave the bloc, AFP reports.
Brexit became a reality at 11:00 p.m. in London, when most of mainland Europe ushered in 2021.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as an “amazing moment” for the country and played up his upbeat narrative of a “Global Britain” unshackled from rules set in Brussels.
He vowed that post-Brexit Britain, despite being battered by a surge in coronavirus cases, would be an “open, generous, outward-looking, internationalist and free-trading” country.
“We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it,” he added.
Legally, Britain left the European Union on January 31 but had been in a standstill transition period during fractious talks to secure a free-trade agreement with Brussels, which was finally clinched last week.
Now the transition is over, EU rules no longer apply. The immediate consequence is an end to the free movement of more than 500 million people between Britain and the 27 EU states.
Britain is the first member state to leave the EU, which was set up to forge unity after World War II.