Britain is finally set to leave the European Union at 11.01 p.m. GMT today. By making this historical move, it becomes the first-ever country to do so. This event will be taking place after three and a half years which saw three prime ministers, protracted debates, a show of emotions and seemingly endless votes since the 2016 Brexit referendum.
However, the expected changes will be invisible to the public, as the United Kingdom now enters a transition period of 11 months that was agreed between the British government and the European Union. And the terms of the agreement means for the next 11 months, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union in all but name. The rules of the European Union will continue to apply to the UK for the duration of the transition. However, the Department for Exiting the European Union ceases to exist.
What actually happens tonight? British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who has been at the forefront in the campaign for Brexit, will address the United Kingdom tonight in what is expected to be an optimistic message. Johnson will insist, as is he won’t, that Brexit marks ‘not an end but a beginning’.. And in a sign of the new Government’s changed approach, he will convene a symbolic Cabinet meeting this afternoon in Sunderland, the first city to declare for Brexit when the 2016 referendum results came out.
He is also expected to stress his belief that the referendum was a vote not just to leave the EU, but also for lasting change in neglected areas of the country. He will describe Brexit as ‘the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act’. He will go on: ‘It is a moment of real national renewal and change. This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances – your family’s life chances – should depend on which part of the country you grow up in.’