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Britain quits EU, steps into transition zone

Filed on February 1, 2020
britain, quit, eu, transition zone, brexit

(AFP file)

It's the first time a country has left the EU, and many in the bloc rued the day.

Britain begins the day as either a proud nation that has reclaimed its sovereignty, or with a diminished presence in Europe and the world. The European Union will have to bounce back from one of its biggest setbacks in its 62-year history to confront an ever more complicated world as its former member becomes a competitor, just across the English Channel.

It's the first time a country has left the EU, and many in the bloc rued the day. In Brussels, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen lamented that "as the sun rises tomorrow a new chapter for our union of 27 will start."

But she warned Brexit day would mark a major loss for the UK and said the island nation is heading for a lonelier existence.

"Strength does not lie in splendid isolation, but in our unique union." Newspapers across the continent were marking the departure with headlines of 'Adieu to Europe' and 'Bye-Bye!' next to a Union Jack flag.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a pre-recorded address to the country an hour before departure, calling Brexit "not an end but a beginning". The prime minister said Brexit would become "a moment of real national renewal and change".

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