The UK left the European Union at midnight on Friday. A long-uncertain historical moment that, with joy for one another and sadness for others, opens the page of a new future alone.
«This is not an end but a beginning,» Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a message to the nation spread an hour earlier.
«I know we can turn this opportunity into an impressive success,» added the man who, ending years of political crisis that ended the career of his two predecessors, David Cameron and Theresa May, is pointing out a huge personal victory.
A clock projected on the facade of Downing Street marked the countdown to the moment when, for the first time in its history, the EU lost a limb and won a powerful competitor on its doorstep.
«We want this to be the beginning of a new era of cordial cooperation,» said Johnson, who hosted a reception at his official residence with British sparkling wine and small bites of purely English gastroammonia.
Von der Leyen: «There will always be a difference»
For her part, the President of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen, said that Brussels wants to maintain «the best possible relationship with the UK», but stressed that it will not be able to amount to being a member of the EU.
«It is clear that there will always be a difference. Belonging to the European Union counts. The Union makes strength,» the policy said during a press conference with European Council Presidentcharles Michel and the European Chamber President David Sassoli.
He warned that Europe «will be very determined to defend its interests» and that only countries that recognise the rules of the internal market can fully benefit from it.
They’ll have to line up
Michel also stated that the European Union is ready to maintain «the closest possible relationship» with the UK after Brexit, and insisted that the country should align itself with Community club rules if it wishes to access the single market.
«The more Britain decides to diverge from European standards, the less access it will have to the internal market,» he warned.
Von der Leyen also highlighted the challenges shared by the 27 and the UK, such as security, economic interests and «the great challenges of our planet.»
In Brussels, the British flag was late in front of the European Council. However, the date is mostly symbolic because, during the planned transition period until the end of December, almost nothing will change.