New Delhi: British PM Boris Johnson on Friday hailed the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), calling it an ‘extraordinary turning point’ as the country finally exited the now 27-member strong bloc.
Coming 43 months after the June 2016 referendum, popularly known as ‘Brexit,’ in which the UK voted to leave the EU, the move came into effect at 11:00 PM GMT on January 31 (4:30 AM IST on February 1), triggering celebrations and protests by pro- and anti-Brexit groups respectively.
Johnson, who succeeded Theresa May as the British PM last July and stormed back to power after snap elections last month, tweeted: “Tonight we have left the EU-an extraordinary turning point in the life of this country. Let us come together now to make the most of all the opportunities Brexit will bring-and let’s unleash the potential of the whole UK.”
Three Brexit deadlines were missed before the British Parliament, earlier this month, finally ratified the ‘divorce agreement,’ setting January 31 as the deadline to leave the EU. However, while the UK has formally, and officially exited the EU, the status quo will not change for now, thanks to a transition period which will last at least until December 31, 2020.
Britain, however, can request the EU to extend the transition period, latest by July 1. PM Johnson, however, has said that Britain must be free of EU rules and regulations ‘as soon as possible.’ Without an extension or a trade agreement, Britain-EU ties will be severed at the end of 2020.
Exiting the EU, among other things, means that the UK will lose its representation and voting rights in the EU institutions, including having no British members of the European Parliament.