Brexit has finally been realized, more than three years after the landmark vote and resulting Parliamentary deadlock.
On January 31, 2020, the UK has officially left the European Union after 47 years of membership.
In 2016, the UK voted to exit the EU in a referendum.
The historic moment, which happened at 23:00 GMT, was marked by both celebrations and anti-Brexit protests.
PM Boris Johnson has vowed to bring the country together and “take us forward”.
In a message released on social media an hour before the UK’s departure, Boris Johnson said: “For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come.
“And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss.
“And then of course there is a third group – perhaps the biggest – who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end.
“I understand all those feelings and our job as the government – my job – is to bring this country together now and take us forward.”
The prime minister said that “for all its strengths and for all its admirable qualities, the EU has evolved over 50 years in a direction that no longer suits this country”.
“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning,” he said, and “a moment of real national renewal and change”.
Brexit parties were held in pubs and social clubs across the UK as the country counted down to its official departure.
Hundreds gathered in Parliament Square to celebrate Brexit, singing patriotic songs and cheering speeches from leading Brexiteers, including Nigel Farage, the leader of Brexit Party.
He said: “Let us celebrate tonight as we have never done before.
“This is the greatest moment in the modern history of our great nation.”
Pro-EU demonstrators earlier staged a march in Whitehall to bid a “fond farewell” to the union – and anti-Brexit rallies and candlelit vigils were held in Scotland.
Other symbolic moments on January 31 included:
- The UK flag was removed from the EU institutions in Brussels;
- The Cabinet meeting in Sunderland, the first city to declare in favor of Brexit when the 2016 results were announced;
- A light show illuminating 10 Downing Street and Union flags lining The Mall;
- A 50p coin to mark the occasion entering circulation.