Boris Johnson to hail ‘dawn of a new era’ as we leave the EU at 11pm tonight: Brexit News for Friday 31 January

Boris Johnson to hail ‘dawn of a new era’ as we leave the EU at 11pm tonight: Brexit News for Friday 31 January

Boris Johnson to hail ‘dawn of a new era’ as we leave the EU at 11pm tonight…

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hail the “dawn of a new era” on Friday, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union after 47 years. In a speech to be shown at 22:00 GMT – an hour before the official departure time – he will say Brexit is “not an end but a beginning”. He will describe severing ties with the other 27 EU nations as “a moment of real national renewal and change”. Little will change immediately, as the UK begins a “transition period”. Most EU laws will continue to be in force – including the free movement of people – until the end of December, by which time the UK aims to have reached a permanent free trade agreement with the EU. In a statement, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged the country not to “turn inwards” and instead “build a truly internationalist, diverse and outward-looking Britain'”. – BBC News

  • Boris Johnson hails ‘dawn of a new era’ as he celebrates Brexit Day with a tax cut – Telegraph (£)

…after all EU governments formally sign off on the Withdrawal Agreement

The European Union has got its part of Brexit done. The Council of the EU, the body made up of the bloc’s member governments, today adopted a decision concluding the Brexit deal — a final legal step ahead of Britain’s departure from the bloc on Friday. The decision was a formality, following Wednesday’s vote in the European Parliament to ratify the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the U.K. and the EU. “The withdrawal agreement will enter into force upon the UK’s exit from the EU, on 31 January 2020 at midnight CET. From that time on, the UK will no longer be an EU member state and will be considered as a third country,” read an official press release published on the Council’s website. – Politico

Johnson reportedly wants a Canada‑style trade deal with Brussels…

Boris Johnson will tell the country to prepare for a “new act” in its history as the United Kingdom leaves the EU today. Almost half a century of membership formally ends at 11pm, three and a half years after a referendum in which voters chose to leave the bloc by 52 per cent to 48 per cent. Although Britain will no longer be an EU member as the day closes, the clock will start ticking on a new deadline of December 31, the end of an agreed transition period. With the full consequences of Brexit uncertain, the prime minister will call next week for a basic trade deal based on that between the EU and Canada. – The Times (£)

…although Michel Barnier is seeking to dash the chances of a quick deal with a plan to force sign-off by all EU27 parliaments

Brussels has dealt Boris Johnson’s hopes of carving out a rapid-fire trade deal by the end of the year a blow with new plans to push Britain into an all-encompassing pact. Michel Barnier briefed EU ambassadors yesterday that an FTA with the UK will have to be built into a wider partnership rather than sewn up separately. He is pushing an Association Agreement, which the bloc has with countries like Ukraine, that would have to be approved by all 27 capitals and the EU Parliament. It would also mean all aspects of the future relationship, from trade to security, are covered by a single system of rules and governance. The move is designed to reassure Member States that the Commission won’t give away too much in talks – but may result in a lengthy ratification period. – The Sun

EU’s Franco-German axis will stutter without the Brits, says Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager

France and Germany will struggle to drive the EU without the British “energy” that helped Paris and Berlin work together, EU competition and digital chief Margrethe Vestager said today. “One of the things we will be missing is of course the energy. Because we have a French-German axis – but part of the energy to make that axis work comes from, came from, the U.K.,” Vestager said when asked what she would miss about Britain. Vestager said that other member countries, “maybe changing coalitions of member states,” would have to step into that void. “I think we will see a new dynamic in the union, but it will take some time before we fully recover,” she said. Vestager attended the Brexit vote in the parliament on Wednesday, which she said was “really touching because you see it is real.” – Politico

Brussels lights up its main square in Union Jack colours to say goodbye to Britain

The City of Brussels has laid on a festival of Britishness to say goodbye to the UK, ahead of Brexit. The Belgian capital’s beautiful central square, the Grand Place, was lit up in Union Jack colours while bands played British music. City authorities rented a real-life black London taxi, and also dressed two city employees up as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to pose for selfies with visitors. Busby-hatted redcoats were posted by the entrance of the city hall, as queues formed around the block in the mediaeval building’s courtyard for photographs with a replica red telephone box.Banners around the square proclaimed: “Brussels Calling: Come together, right now.” – Independent

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vows Brexit Britain will be ‘front of the line’ for a trade deal

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has today promised the UK will be at “the front of the line” for a new post-Brexit Britain trade deal – despite the row over Huawei. Mr Pompeo and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab were on friendly terms again after Boris Johnson sparked a rift by allowing the Chinese telecoms giant to help build the UK’s 5G network. Mr Pompeo said the US was keen to get started on trade talks with the UK to mark a “historical moment” in the relationship between the UK and the US. He said: “The previous administration said they would put the UK at the back of the line. We intend to put the UK at the front of the line. This is a historical moment in the relationship”. – The Sun

  • Washington lets UK slide on Huawei decision – Politico

Matthew Elliott: This marks the start of a brave new post-Brexit future

Tonight at 11 o’clock, as the Brexit countdown clock ticks to zero, I will be toasting the moment with a bottle of Brexit Beer, produced by my friend and fellow Leave campaigner Jon Moynihan. My toast won’t be to winning the Referendum or Getting Brexit Done. Rather, it will be a toast to the future, to the opportunities I hope will open up as Britain leaves the European Union. Many articles and books have been written about the road to Brexit, the Referendum campaign, and the painfully tortuous process of negotiating the UK’s exit under Theresa May. But not enough has been written about the opportunities that lie ahead for us outside the EU. It is time we focus once again on the big picture. For me, the Brexit prize was not about leaving the EU per se. Leaving the political institutions tonight is the start of the process, rather than the endpoint. – Matthew Elliott for City A.M.

> Today on BrexitCentral: Brexit reflections from Matthew Elliott

Jonathan Isaby: Brexit Day is a chance for Brexiteers to step back and appreciate how far we’ve come

At 11pm on Friday 31 January the United Kingdom will formally be leaving the European Union. It’s a moment that as recently as 15 years ago most of us would have thought unimaginable: back then the cause of withdrawal from the EU – the word Brexit was at that juncture yet to be coined – was deeply unfashionable. It was not championed by a single Westminster MP, and anyone favouring it was cast by the political establishment to the fringes of British politics. Yet a decade later, despite having earlier labelled the one political party then backing withdrawal from the EU (Ukip) as a bunch of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists mostly”, Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to deliver on his manifesto pledge of an In/Out referendum on our membership of the EU after unexpectedly winning that overall majority at the 2015 General Election. – Jonathan Isaby for iNews

Steve Barclay: It’s time to write the next chapter

It’s difficult to overstate today’s significance. As we mark the United Kingdom’s historic departure from the European Union, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the journey that has led us to this moment — and the path we hope to take from here. For 47 years, the U.K. has been a member of what was initially the European Economic Community and later became the EU. In that period, the ties that bound us shaped our respective cultures, economies and societies. But as time passed, the feeling grew in the U.K. that our relationship with the EU was no longer working. This was powerfully expressed in the Brexit referendum in 2016 — the largest democratic exercise in our history. And after years of parliamentary wrangling, last year’s election has given this government a powerful five-year mandate to honor that result. – Steve Barclay MP for Politico

Priti Patel: I am proud to be part of a Government that got Brexit done – now let’s unleash brilliant Britain

Today Britain will make history. At 11pm we will leave the EU, finally becoming a truly independent nation. This is what people voted for more than three and a half years ago. I am proud to be part of a Government delivering what they want — Getting Brexit Done and moving forward for Britain. Now the opportunities are endless. We will take back control of our borders, laws and trade. We will set our own rules and make our own deals. We will put the interests of the British people first. But this doesn’t mean shutting up shop and closing our doors. To those Sun readers from the EU who have already made the UK their home, let me be clear: You are an important part of Britain, we want you to stay and I am delighted there have already been more than 2.8million applications to our EU Settlement Scheme. – Priti Patel MP for The Sun

Nigel Farage: We’re leaving a sinking EU Titanic on our Brexit lifeboat, rowing to a bright new future

It is done. I have given my final speech in the European Parliament, handed in my security pass, and left Brussels for the last time as an MEP. After 20 years of trying to get rid of my job, I have succeeded, and it feels fantastic. At 11 o’clock tonight, our nation will pass the point of no return, enacting the wish of the majority which was first expressed back in June 2016. The EU, however, is only just getting to grips with the situation. As I and my fellow (now ex) MEPs sat in the assembly on Wednesday, I sensed the other politicians were more scared of us and our departure than we were of them and the finality of it all. Is it any surprise? The UK economy is the equivalent in size of the EU’s 19 smallest economies. Our exit from the single market could hole the entire rotten project below the waterline, and while the Titanic sinks, our nation will be on a lifeboat rowing to a bright new future. Their fear was reflected in their behaviour. – Nigel Farage for the Telegraph (£)

Ross Clark: Dear Mr Juncker, it’s time to love you and leave EU… but we’re no less European

Dear Jean, By the time you read these lines, we’ll be gone . . . well, almost. At 11pm tonight, Britain leaves the structures of your beloved European Union. Finally, we bid you so long, farewell, au revoir, auf Wiedersehen, adieu. As the pubs kick out from John o’ Groats to Lands’ End, we will no longer be part of your frustrating bureaucracy which, over the years, has given us such delights as the directive on straight bananas, the butter mountains and the wine lake. We will no longer be taking part in your mind-numbing pan-European discussions over milk quotas or steel subsidies. At last we will take back control of trade, human rights and migration. – Ross Clark for The Sun

Tom McTague: Why Britain Brexited

The United Kingdom will soon begin the most radical national experiment of the 21st century so far: Brexit. Having won a landslide election victory on a promise to “get Brexit done,” Boris Johnson will finally make good on 2016’s referendum result. Britain will leave the European Union, with no easy way back or guarantees about what will come next. Having voted twice for Brexit, the country is finally ready to make the leap—even if it has little idea where it is leaping. This, at least, is the conventional view. In this story, Brexit is essentially an aberration, a decision of epic stupidity, which, at its heart, seeks to reverse the tide of history pushing midsize countries into multinational blocs in order to compete in a world of superpowers. Britain, in voting to leave the biggest and most advanced of these blocs, has allowed an instant of nostalgic madness to rip it from its moorings, casting it off into the exposed waters of economic isolation at the very moment the rest of the world, led by Donald Trump, is putting up trade barriers. – Tom McTague for The Atlantic

The Sun: Today at 11pm, after 30 years of resistance, the great people of the UK will have finally got Brexit done

On the stroke of 11pm our nation’s course changes for ever — and for the better. We will finally be out of the EU. Forty-seven years and 30 days after we joined. Three decades since the rot set in with the drive towards a United States of Europe. Seven years after David Cameron promised a referendum and 3½ traumatic years since Leave won it. It is hard to exaggerate the magnitude of this moment. Or the relief that Brexit, after all the division and rancour, will at last be done. That our democracy ­ultimately prevailed over those who fought to thwart it. Other EU nations saw their referendums overturned or ignored. We would not be bullied into a rethink. It is true that nothing much will change this year during the “transition period”. But at 11pm Brexit becomes irreversible. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • I am a Remainer, but as we leave the EU I will feel a sense of relief – Stephen Bush for iNews
  • Rory Stewart pledges to set up EU university exchange scheme for London if he wins mayoral race – Independent 
  • The last days of Brussels: Here’s what it was like in the EU Parliament on Brexit Eve – HuffPost