London/Brussels (dpa) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union’s top officials were looking ahead to new opportunities on Friday, just hours before Britain formally withdraws from the bloc after 47 years of membership.
In a speech to the nation, Johnson is expected to urge the public to help him “unleash this country’s full potential,” Downing Street said.
Thousands of eurosceptics plan to celebrate Brexit Day in London and other cities, but most British people are not expected to mark the date.
Johnson will speak at 10 pm (2200 GMT) as a countdown clock is projected onto the wall of his official residence in Downing Street for the final hour before Brexit begins at 11 pm, midnight in Brussels.
In Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and European Parliament President David Sassoli turned their thoughts to the future of the 27-member EU.
Saturday will mark a “new dawn for Europe,” they wrote in an op-ed for various European newspapers, noting that the bloc’s remaining member sates will “continue to join forces and build a common future.”
“In an age of great power competition and turbulent geopolitics, size matters. No country alone can hold back the tide of climate change, find the solutions to the digital future or have a strong voice in the ever-louder cacophony of the world.”
“But together, the European Union can,” the EU officials wrote.