A deeply divided United Kingdom has officially ended its 47 years of European Union membership as the clock strikes 11pm in London and midnight in Brussels — and the slated 11-month ‘transition period’ has formally begun.
The long and rocky road to the divorce began three-and-a-half years ago when 52 percent of Brits voted to cut their losses and take their country out of the 28-member bloc (now 27).
Three prime ministers, two general elections, and plenty of national anxiety and rancor later, the day has finally arrived, in a moment long-awaited by some and desperately dreaded by others.
The UK, for now, will keep some of the benefits and obligations associated with membership. British citizens will continue to enjoy free travel around the union, but they will no longer be EU citizens. The UK will remain an integrated part of the single market, but British MEPs will head home and will no longer have any say in decision-making processes. EU citizens residing in the UK must apply for Britain’s ‘settled status scheme’ allowing them to remain in the country post-Brexit.