In Brussels Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have overwhelmingly gave their terms of the UK’s departure from the EU.
MEPs ratified the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by 621 votes to 49 following an debate highly charged with sentiments and vivid human emotions.
After the vote, MEPs marked the UK’s exit by singing Auld Lang Syne, is a Scots-language poem written by poet Robert Burns in 1788, and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.
Several British MEPs said they hoped the UK would return one day although Eurosceptics, including the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage, used their final speeches to phrase the departure from the EU.
The UK is due to leave the bloc at 23:00 GMT on Friday. The Withdrawal agreement (WA) is expected to be signed off in Brussels later.
Some MEPs have marked the occasion with songs – others wore “always united” scarves. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the UK: “We will always love you.”
Ratification of the Withdrawal agreement, agreed by the UK and EU in October, was not in doubt after it easily cleared its committee stage last week.
To indignation of some Members of the European Parliament, the January Plenary session in Strasbourg started with removal of national flags from the desks in the Chamber.
“The European Union is slipping further. The autocratic socialist Sassoli, who was appointed President of the European Parliament, has ordered to bailiffs to seize all national flags on the banks of parliamentarians. Continuation follows!”wrote Gerolf Annemans, MEP from Vlaams Belang party.
Nigel Farage leading the UK Brexit party expressed his content to leave the bloc.
Germany is willing to accept the UK short-term extension for its departure from the European Union if it will be for the right political reason, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview to N-TV channel.
“We need to know: What will be the reason for this?” Maas said. “If it will be about pushing back the date by two or three weeks to allow lawmakers in London to implement the ratification of the exit bill in a reasonable way, I think this will rather not be a problem” the Minister added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was up to the EU to decide whether it wanted to delay Brexit and for how long, after a defeat in Westminster made ratification of his Withdrawal Agreement (WA) by the October 31 deadline almost impossible.
British MEP and leader of Brexit party Nigel Farage (pictured) said six month extension would be right time top organise general elections and move on with Brexit.
The European Commission is willing to discuss Brexit with the UK over the coming weeks, a spokeswoman said on August 6. However the decision of keeping intact the negotiated with Theresa May government deal remains unchanged. The Commission expressed readiness to add “words” to it in forms of declarations.
The EU executives have been hoping to avoid a “no-deal” scenario, the bloc is prepared for such an outcome as well.
“The Commission does remain available over the coming weeks should the United Kingdom wish to hold talks and clarify its position in more detail, whether by phone or in person,” the spokeswoman said during regular Midday briefing.
In Peterborough, eastern England on June 6, the Labour Party narrowly held on to a seat in Westminster, overcoming a challenge from Nigel Farage’s newly born Brexit Party to win by less than 700 votes.
Labour candidate Lisa Forbes won with 10,484 votes, while the Brexit Party came second on 9,801 votes, while ruling Conservatives came third with 7,243 votes.
“Despite differing opinions across our city, the fact that the Brexit Party have been rejected here in Peterborough shows that the politics of division will not win,” Forbes said speech shorty after the victory.
However some Brexit supporters attributed victory to ‘Pakistani vote” claiming registration of up to 14 people per household.
Far-right parties’ intentions to create a powerful Eurosceptic bloc in the European Parliament (pciutred) failed when Poland’s ruling nationalists Law and Justice party – and the UK Brexit Party both announced they would not join such a congregation.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s conservative ruling party Law and Justice (PiS), ruled out joining a political group along with Italiy’s Lega Salvini, France’s National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which won 29 of Britain’s 72 seats in the European Parliament, also said it would not join Marine Le Pen‘s Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group. Britain is due to quit the EU on October 31 but the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will start their work from July onward, and stay until Brexit takes place.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said he did not know if he could have a meeting with Donald Trump during the U.S. president’s state visit to the UK. (Image: archive).
Farage said he was waiting for a call from Trump.