With the UK finalizing its divorce with the EU on Friday night, thousands have taken to the streets across the UK and elsewhere to either rejoice at Brexit or mourn the departure. The mood was poles apart in London and Edinburgh.
Thousands of avid Brexiteers flocked to London’s Parliament Square hours before the clock struck 11pm, the moment when Britain formally withdrew from the EU following more than three years of intense legal and political wrangling.
— Michael Heaver (@Michael_Heaver) January 31, 2020
The jubilant crowd rang bells, banged on drums, and waved Union Jacks, while a cart featuring a cardboard cutout of a ‘Little Ben’ clock – along with such slogans as “Brexited,” “Democracy & Liberty” and “Save Our Sovereignty” – led the procession.
#Brexit supporters celebrate in London as Britain withdraws from EU
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) January 31, 2020
The gathering cheered as one of Brexit’s long-time champions, former UKIP head and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, turned up at the bash, speaking to thunderous applause as he congratulated the supporters of the Brexit cause.
“This is the greatest moment”.
Nigel Farage, the former head of UKIP, speaks to a roaring crowd of partygoers in Parliament Square in London on Brexit Night.
— ITV News (@itvnews) January 31, 2020
The huge crowd also assembled outside UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s residence at 10 Downing Street, temporarily embellished with a giant countdown clock that was projected onto its facade with one hour left to go until Brexit became a reality.
— Brendan Marshall (@BJPMarshall) January 31, 2020
Johnson himself called Brexit an “astonishing moment of hope” for the UK, while vowing to “bring this country together.”
Sentiments were much more somber in Scotland, however, where scores of people swarmed the square in front of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to hold a vigil.
— embolton (@boltonted) January 31, 2020
— Scotmany (@realscotmany) January 31, 2020
With many waving Scottish as well as EU flags and holding candles to set the mood, the crowd then broke into a rendition of a traditional Scottish song, Auld Lang Syne, typically used to mark sad farewells – accompanied by bagpipes.
#LeaveALightOn event in front of the Scottish Parliament in #Edinburgh! Hundreds of people, lots of international media present too. #Scotland has rejected #Brexit at every turn. #BrexitDay pic.twitter.com/QDIsuqTuzz
— Juuso Järviniemi (@juusojarviniemi) January 31, 2020
At one point a symbolic ‘funeral’ wreath with a candle in the center was placed in a pond outside the parliament building, overlooked by a blue EU flag that continued to fly at its entrance.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shared in the mood of many of her compatriots, who overwhelmingly rejected Brexit, voting to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum. Sturgeon, who called Brexit “an affront to democracy,” thanked the EU for its support, posting a photo of the EU Commission building sporting an X-shaped message: “Europe loves Scotland.”
The EU Commission building in Brussels tonight (and if you look carefully you’ll see that they do appear to have left a light on for us!) 🏴❤️🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/KMmUvJsKn4
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) January 31, 2020
People elsewhere in the world also reacted to the UK exit, dreaded by some and eagerly anticipated by others. In front of Germany’s iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, for instance, bagpipers played Ode to Joy to mourn the split, a version of which remains the EU’s official anthem to this day.
— Jasmin Beckett (@Jasmin_Beckett) January 31, 2020
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