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In a somewhat symbolic vote, the European Parliament approved 621 to 49 the U.K.'s official exit, after joining the bloc 47 years ago.
In an emotional session, the European Parliament voted “yes” Wednesday to the United Kingdom divorce from the European Union (EU), clearing the last hurdle for the country to quit the bloc on Friday after nearly half a century.
The final result was 621 approvals, 13 abstentions and 49 against the Brexit agreement sealed between Britain and the 27 other member states last October, more than three years since Britons voted out. Reuters reported that earlier on Wednesday, Britain’s ambassador to the EU handed documents formalizing Brexit to a senior EU official.
The U.K. will leave the bloc it joined 47 years ago at midnight Brussels time Jan. 31, when British flags will be removed from EU offices and the EU flag lowered on the British premises there.
“It’s probably the saddest day of my life so far. Brexit is something that attacks the very foundation of our identity,” U.K. Member of the European Parliament Judith Kirton-Darling expressed.
EU lawmaker Guy Verhofstad also lamented Brexit as a historic debacle. “It’s sad to see a country leaving that twice liberated us, twice gave its blood to liberate Europe.”
Starting Saturday morning, the U.K. will become a Permanent Representation at the EU, or “UKRep”, a foreign mission - already dubbed “UKmissEU” by some.
On the other hand, Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage told reporters that the "U.K. didn’t fit, we’d be better off out.”
On Feb. 1, Britain now separated from the bloc will enter a transition period that will last until Dec. 31. During this time the country and the bloc will agree on trade mainly and other rules that will shape the new relationship with the EU.
“We are considering a zero-tariff, zero-quotas free trade agreement. But the precondition is that EU and British businesses continue to compete on a level playing field. We will certainly not expose our companies to unfair competition,” European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen told the chamber.