'Bittersweet' moment as Britain officially leave European Union

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that there will "always be a seat at the table" for the UK at the EU table.

'Bittersweet' moment as Britain officially leave European Union

As of 11pm tonight, Britain has officially left the European Union.

The two sides will then enter an 11-month transition period in which they also hope to reach a trade deal.

It has been over 1,300 days with countless discussions and twists in the tale which included fears for a hard border on this island, a backstop before this current agreement of customs checks taking place in the Irish Sea.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described tonight as an "astonishing moment of hope".

Mr Johnson also acknowledged that there were others in the country feeling "a sense of anxiety and loss" while others were worried that the process "would never come to an end".

"This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act in our great national drama," he added in a taped message from No 10 Downing St.

Brexit Patry leader Nigel Farage, who spearheaded the campaign to leave the EU, simply stated "Democracy has won".

Outgoing Labour Party leader Jeremyy Corbyn said "Britain's place in the world will change".

The question now is what direction will we take?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that there will "always be a seat at the table" for the UK at the EU table.

"We'll say goodbye to an old friend embarking on an adventure. We hope it works out for them. But if it does not, there will always be a seat kept for them at the table," Mr Varadkar tweeted.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

"I am ambitious about the future EU/UK relationship but I also think we think to be realistic about the dangers. We need to start a new relationship between the EU and the UK on a firm and honest footing. And that means a level playing field.

"This is very much in Ireland’s interests, as well as that of the European Union as a whole.

Today is a bittersweet day for all of us who believe in the idea of Europe.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe tweeted that a "new future" will be ahead for Ireland, the UK and the EU.

"To our British friends, you made me at home when I was away from home for years. We’re now on different paths, but we’re all in this together. We’ll create a new future, based on a shared history and ties that are too deep to let (Brexit) sunder."

Meanwhile, hundreds of anti-Brexit campaigners have taken part in a number of demonstrations along the Irish border in opposition to Brexit.

Pro-Brexit supporters in Parliament Square, London, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union, ending 47 years of close and sometimes uncomfortable ties to Brussels. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Pro-Brexit supporters in Parliament Square, London, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union, ending 47 years of close and sometimes uncomfortable ties to Brussels. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The anti-Brexit protests organised by the Border Communities Against Brexit group and Sinn Féin were held to mark the UK leaving the European Union.

Protesters gathered at six locations along the border in counties Louth, Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Donegal on Friday night.

Around 200 people gathered a few miles from Newry to voice their opposition to Brexit.

However, a crowd of pro-Brexit supporters have gathered at the gates of Stormont, the seat of Northern Ireland’s devolved government, in east Belfast where they counted down to 11pm.

Many are holding Union flags and are ready to toast the moment Brexit became official.

Elsewhere, the first Calais to Dover ferry due to arrive in Kent after Britain’s departure from the EU has left the French port.

The DFDS ship, named Cotes des Dunes, is expected to dock in the UK shortly after 11pm GMT.

It left France at around 11.15pm French time, approximately 45 minutes before Britain’s official departure, which is midnight in the EU, but 11pm in the UK.

- Additional reporting Press Association

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