The United Kingdom has finally bid farewell to the European Union with her successful exit on Friday.
The exit has brought an end to the half a century of European Union membership.
There were celebrations and tears across the country as the EU’s often reluctant member became the first to leave an organisation set up to forge unity among nations after the horrors of World War II.
Thousands of people waving Union Jack flags packed London’s Parliament Square to mark the moment of Brexit at 11 pm (2300 GMT) — midnight in Brussels.
“We did it!” declared Nigel Farage, the former member of the European Parliament who has campaigned for Brexit for years, before the crowd began singing the national anthem.
It was a largely good-natured gathering, aside from one Brexit supporter who earlier set an EU flag alight.
But Brexit has exposed deep divisions in British society, and many fear the consequences of ending 47 years of ties with their nearest neighbours.
Some pro-Europeans, including many of the 3.6 million EU citizens who made their lives in Britain, marked the occasion with solemn candlelit vigils.
Brexit has also provoked soul-searching in the EU about its own future after losing 66 million people, a global diplomatic big-hitter and the clout of the City of London financial centre.
– ‘Not an end, a beginning’ –
In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson — a figurehead in the seismic 2016 referendum vote for Brexit — acknowledged there might be “bumps in the road ahead”.
But he said Britain could make it a “stunning success”.
As he held a private party in his Downing Street office, a clock projected on the walls outside counted down the minutes until Brexit.
Johnson predicted a “new era of friendly cooperation” with the EU while Britain takes a greater role on the world stage.
“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning,” he said in a televised address.