Britain’s Brexit-day front pages expressed both joy at the country’s imminent departure from the European Union and remorse and trepidation on Friday as the UK prepares to go it alone after nearly half a century as part of the bloc.
“Yes, we did it!” said the “Daily Express” tabloid, a fervent campaigner for Britain to leave the EU.
The headline was imposed over a map of the UK made up of front pages from the newspaper from the 43 months since the June 2016 vote, which saw three Brexit deadlines come and go before the British parliament finally ratified the divorce agreement.
The people of the UK had a referendum on whether to leave or to stay in the EU back in 2016. The Brexiteers or the advocates of the Leave campaign won the referendum with a narrow margin of 51 to 49 percent. Since then the country was entangled in an arduous task to strike a better deal with the 28-member group of European countries upon leaving the group. Finally, Boris Johnson’s deal was ratified both by the EU and Britain’s Parliaments, thus paving the way for the exit by the end of 2020.
The whole process, that finally culminated with a divorce from the EU, took some three years in which the leadership was changed twice and the country missed three exit deadlines. Today, January 31st is the last day of Britain in the EU. People express mix feelings regarding the deal and the Brexit. Some hail the day calling it as the harbinger of a new dawn while others regret the whole process and call it the biggest gamble.
“A new dawn for Britain,” said its rival and fellow Brexit-supporting tabloid The Daily Mail. “At 11 pm our proud nation finally leaves the EU – still a friend of Europe, but free and independent once more after 47 years.”
The left-leaning Guardian was more circumspect, leading its front page with the words “Small Island” and describing Brexit as “the biggest gamble in a generation”.
A very sad and embarrassing day to be British. The present UK will no doubt eventually rejoin the EU, no longer united and no longer a kingdom. But it's a heartbreaking day for young people who will now miss out on the benefits the boomers enjoyed. #BrexitDay pic.twitter.com/zY8NuKsRnT— Dave The Trampoline Venue Avoider (@HappySinger) January 31, 2020
“PM wants Canada-style trade deal with Brussels,” said the Times, leading with an article on Boris Johnson’s attempts to flesh out his ideas for a free trade agreement along the lines of a recent EU deal with Canada.
“Britain bows out of EU with a mixture of optimism and regret,” said The Financial Times.
“It’s been quite a ride,” splashed the business City AM paper over a mock-up of a roller coaster carriage filled with prominent faces from the Brexit saga, including a sombre-looking Angela Merkel and a jubilant Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage holding aloft a glass of beer.
“This is not an end but a beginning,” said the Daily Telegraph, carrying remarks from Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of a special cabinet meeting Friday in Sunderland, a city in northeast England that voted heavily for Brexit.
The tabloid Daily Mirror gave most of its front page to the news that 150 Britons were in quarantine over coronavirus fears. On a smaller section of the page titled “Brexit Day”, it said, “Now it’s time to bring the country back together.”
In Scotland – where a majority of voters chose to remain in the bloc – the headlines were less jubilant.
In Edinburgh, The Scotsman went with “Farewell, not goodbye”, above the word for farewell in 24 European languages.
Happy #BrexitDay , the day where remainers finally become leavers.
3 years of pointless petitions, pointless marches and a biased speaker couldnt stop the wish of 17.4m people.
A victory for our democracy.
Rule Britannia 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/3wwqYbzLg8
— Kev (@KevSaddler) January 31, 2020
“Shortchanged, Isolated, worse off, weaker and divided,” said the Daily Record.
Despite the momentous occasion, one English tabloid could not resist a joke.
“Tonight is a truly HISTORIC MOMENT for our great nation,” read the front page of The Daily Star “….That’s right, it’s the end of Dry January!”, referring to the increasingly popular practice of giving up alcohol for the first month of the year.