Brexit has finally happened and the United Kingdom has left the European Union. This is how the internet reacted to the week’s events.
Three years after the 2016 referendum, Brexit actually just happened. Within that time, we’ve seen three prime ministers, two general elections and lots of political friction. It’s also divided family members, friends, colleagues and romantic partners across the country. But at 11pm on 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union.
This week has seen viral videos, messages and photographs documenting the historic events. But it’s perhaps the messages of kindness and openness that feel most poignant right now.
Here’s what happened:
It started with people reacting to Nigel Farage’s speech that he made in the European Parliament on Wednesday. He had talked about “hating” the EU, despite “loving” Europe. He then waved a Union Jack flag, declaring: “That’s it, it’s all over. Finished.”
Speaker Mairead McGuinness said: “Please put your flags away. And if you’re leaving, take them with you.”
She also pointed out the use of hate speech, adding: “The word hate was used in the last contribution. We should not hate anybody, any nation, or any people.”
People also reacted to Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who gave an emotional speech in the European Parliament, saying: “Our future as a country has no clear shape beyond a few slogans.”
Holding back tears, she continued: “I hold in my heart the knowledge that one day I will be back in this chamber celebrating our return to the heart of Europe.”
Over in the Houses of Parliament, Conservative MP Steve Baker said he’ll celebrate Brexit “discretely” and will be “respectful of the genuine sorrow others are feeling at the same time”.
The Royal Society of Literature shared a poignant A.A. Milne quote: “But, of course, it isn’t really good-bye, because the forest will always be there… and anybody who is friendly with bears can find it.”
When Brexit day arrived, commuters shared TfL’s messages of “London is Open, today and always.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan echoed the message, saying: “Not going to lie: I’m heartbroken. We’ve left the EU, but London remains a beacon for progressive ideas, liberal values, decency and diversity. To our EU friends and neighbours that contribute so much: you are welcome and that will never change.”
Taking a witty but surprisingly relevant spin on things, many people referred to a Come Dine With Me episode (you’ll know the one…).
“You ruined my night, completely, so you could have the independence. But I hope now you spend it on getting some lessons in grace and decorum, because you have all the grace of a reversing dump truck without any tyres on.”
Regardless of your stance on Brexit, the most important message being shared is that this isn’t a time for hate.
Matt Haig touched on this in a tweet, writing: “I love Europe. I am European. I feel European. I don’t hate you for voting Brexit. I am just sad that you have closed the doors. I don’t feel Trump’s America is as much of a friend to us as you do. Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Rome, Madrid, Prague. These are me. I am Europe.”