January 31, 2020 / 2:20 PM / 16 days ago

Joy and sadness: how the world is reacting on Brexit Day

LONDON (Reuters) - The United Kingdom leaves the European Union at 2300 GMT on Friday, ending its 47-year membership of the world’s biggest trading bloc.

People participate in an event on Brussels' Grand Place to celebrate the friendship between Belgium and Britain in Brussels, Belgium January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Reactions from leaders in Britain, and from around the world, were a mix of joy, resolve, sadness and resignation.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON

“Our job as the government – my job – is to bring this country together and take us forward,” Johnson said in a statement.

“And the most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning. This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act. It is a moment of real national renewal and change.”

BRITISH OPPOSITION LABOUR LEADER JEREMY CORBYN

“Britain’s place in the world will change. The question is what direction we now take,” Corbyn said in a statement.

“We can build a truly internationalist, diverse and outward-looking Britain. Or we can turn inwards, and trade our principles, rights and standards to secure hastily arranged, one-sided, race-to-the-bottom trade deals with Donald Trump and others.”

EU CHIEF NEGOTIATOR MICHEL BARNIER

“Today my thoughts go the millions of British citizens who are sad, as we are sad today,” Barnier told BBC TV.

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO

“The British people wanted out of the tyranny of Brussels,” Pompeo told the Daily Telegraph. “They wanted the capacity to make their own decisions. We want that for the British people too.”

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON

“Tonight, the UK will leave the European Union. That will be a moment of profound sadness for many of us across the UK. And here in Scotland, given that it is happening against the will of the vast majority of us, that sadness will be tinged with anger,” she said.

“I want to focus on something much more important. Hope of a different and better future for Scotland ... After tonight, that future is only open to us with independence.”

IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER SIMON COVENEY

“From an Irish perspective, today is a sad day,” he told Sky News.

“Of course we accept and respect the decision of the UK to leave, but our view remains unchanged: We believe that this has been a lose-lose-lose for everybody.”

FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON

“It’s obviously a very big day for our country,” Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum and quit after the vote for Brexit, told Sky News.

“I always accepted the referendum result and knew this day would come. We are one of the biggest economies in the world ... we can make a success of the choice that we make and I’m sure that’s exactly what we will do.”

GIBRALTAR’S CHIEF MINISTER FABIAN PICARDO

“My government and most of the citizens of Gibraltar have deep regrets about what is about to happen,” he told Spanish TVE. “For us, today is not a day to be celebrated.

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT CHARLES MICHEL, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT DAVID SASSOLI AND EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT URSULA VON DER LEYEN

“For us, as Presidents of the three main EU institutions, today will inevitably be a day of reflection and mixed emotions – as it will for so many people.”

“We will think of the UK and its people, their creativity, ingenuity, culture, and traditions, that have been a vital part of our Union’s tapestry.”

ANN WIDDECOMBE, BREXIT PARTY MEP

“Today we celebrate the beginning of our independence, our ability to control our own laws, our own trade deals, our own borders, and we believe that Britain can now go forward into a future, rejoicing. For the MEPs leaving here today: our duty is done, our harvest is home and now we’re off.”

Reporting by Michael Holden, John Chalmers and Christian Lowe; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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