Brexit: MEPs say goodbye to UK ahead of Brexit vote

  29 January 2020    Read: 694
Brexit: MEPs say goodbye to UK ahead of Brexit vote

Members of the European Parliament are bidding farewell to UK colleagues ahead of a final vote on the Brexit deal.

The withdrawal agreement is expected to be signed off at the historic session of the 751-member assembly in Brussels.

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."

The UK is due to leave the EU at 23:00 GMT on Friday.

Ratification of the withdrawal agreement, agreed by the UK and EU in October, is not in doubt after it easily cleared its committee stage last week.

Departing British members are expected to be serenaded by their colleagues in a special ceremony after the vote, which is due at 17.00 GMT.

The session will see those on either side of the Brexit debate, including the UK's 73 MEPs, celebrate or lament the end of British EU membership.

Ahead of the vote, the Parliament's Brexit spokesman, Guy Verhofstadt, said the UK's departure would be a sad occasion for the assembly.

"It's sad to see a country leaving that has twice given its blood to liberate Europe," he told the chamber.

He added that British MEPs had brought "wit, charm, and intelligence," as well as "stubbornness" and would be missed.

Mrs von der Leyen says ratification of the withdrawal deal was "only a first step" towards a new partnership between the EU and the UK.

She says the two should "join forces" in areas such as climate change, and seek a close partnership following the UK's exit on Friday - but warned the UK must not attempt to undercut other European nations.

The EU president finished her speech by saying: "We will always love you, and we will not be far. Long live Europe."


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