BosNewsLife WORLD WATCH
By BosNewsLife News Center with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos and news reports from Paris and London
LONDON/PARIS/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Britain was spending its first full day outside the European Union after it officially left the bloc late Friday, January 31, local time. Difficult negotiations are expected about Britain’s future relationship with the EU.
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The pre-recorded sound of the famed Big Ben bell in parliament’s clock tower in London reverberated through the area. It marked the moment that Britain officially left the European Union following 47 years of membership.
The ringing happened more than three years after Britain voted to exit the EU in a referendum. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street residence had been lit up with a countdown to Brexit as part of a light display accompanying the moment.
Big Ben’s bell-ringing was pre-recorded because it has been mostly silent since 2017 because of renovation work on the tower. Both celebrations and anti-Brexit protests marked Brexit.
Candlelit vigils were held in Scotland, which voted to stay in the EU, while Brexiteers partied in London’s Parliament Square.
A BBC broadcaster suggested a new era has now begun for her and fellow British citizens. “There you have it, the recorded sound of Big Ben in Downing Street. We are no longer a member of the European Union,” she noted.
“And so begins the next chapter for the United Kingdom. We have now formally left the EU after 47 years. We are no longer EU citizens,” the reporter added in a live televised comment.
Across the English Channel in Paris, France, people expressed mixed feelings about Brexit. “It’s too bad,” one man said. “Good luck,” said a woman. Another man had a message for Britain: “I hope you don’t regret your decision,” he said.
That’s not how a fellow Parisian views Brexit. “I think it is actually a very positive thing that people voted on something and got what they wanted,” he said.
But Britain faces a rocky road ahead as difficult talks are due between Brussels and London over Britain’s future ties to the EU. High on the agenda is negotiating a trade deal. Britain wants as much access as possible for its goods and services to the EU.
That’s not easy because the British government wants Britain to leave the customs union and single market. Critics claim Britain seeks to have the freedom to diverge from EU rules so it can do deals with other countries.
Besides trade issues, Britain wants to end the overall jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Britain must also figure out how it will co-operate with the EU on security and law enforcement. It is due to leave the European Arrest Warrant scheme and will have to agree on a replacement.
The problem is that the EU could take weeks to accept a formal negotiating mandate. But all the remaining 27 member states and the European Parliament have to agree. Formal talks might begin in March.
Time is short: the government has ruled out any form of an extension to the transition period. That period is due to end on December 31 this year.