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Boris Johnson says Britain will become ‘global, trail-blazing country’ after Brexit

Boris Johnson has said Britain will become a “global, trail-blazing country” after Brexit and that he will “look ahead with confidence”.

The prime minister made the comments as he unveiled the government’s full plans to mark Brexit day on Friday when the UK formally leaves the European Union, nearly four years after the referendum.

He said: “Next Friday marks an important moment in the history of our United Kingdom.

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“No matter how you voted in 2016, it is the time to look ahead with confidence to the global, trail-blazing country we will become over the next decade and heal past divisions.

“That is what I will be doing on 31 January and I urge everyone across the UK to do the same.”


However, former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine and other politicians have accused Mr Johnson of rubbing the noses of Remainers in their defeat through plans to celebrate Brexit.

The Tory peer, who fought for Britain to stay in the EU, told The Observer newspaper that the raft of celebrations risked exacerbating national divisions at a time when sensitivities over leaving Europe were still high.

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“Brexit is the most divisive issue of modern times. Those of us who fought to Remain did so sincerely in the interests of our country and subsequent generations who we believe should be influential at the heart of Europe,” Lord Heseltine told the paper.

“I think it is unwise of the government to rub our noses in it by celebrating our defeat at this hour, whilst talking about unifying the country.”

Acting Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey joined the criticism, saying Mr Johnson should be using public money to unite the nation, “not gloat with an expensive party”.

And the Scottish National Party’s leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, told the paper that “leaving the greatest post-war peace project ever created” was “not something we should be celebrating”.

Image: Lord Heseltine says it is ‘unwise of the government to rub our noses in it’

Home Secretary Priti Patel told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that the UK will diverge from EU rules post-Brexit.

“We want to take control of our laws, money and our borders,” she said.

“And to do that we will not be rule-takers – we will be setting our own laws and that is a fundamental feature of leaving the European Union.”

Ahead of Brexit day, Ms Patel confirmed that the Migration Advisory Committee would report on the government’s points-based immigration system and immigration cap which will come into effect after Brexit.

She said British businesses have been “far too reliant on low-skilled and quite frankly cheap labour from the EU” and it is “about time” that businesses “started to invest in people across the whole of the United Kingdom”.

Also speaking to Sky News, Ireland’s Europe minister said negotiating the future relationship between the two sides will be “very difficult” – adding that Brexit is “really only at half-time”.

Helen McEntee said: “The idea that we can negotiate a trade deal with one that is comprehensive, one that provides very little change for our citizens, not just in the UK and Ireland, but the EU as well, within about a 12-month space, it’s very difficult.

“Now of course the EU is willing and Michel Barnier is still there, and he is working with his team, and all member states are included to ensure that we have a mandate and that we are ready for these negotiations when they start.”

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Mr Johnson will deliver a special address to the nation to mark the historic day, and Downing Street will be illuminated with a light display designed to symbolise the strength and unity of the UK’s four nations.

Union flags will line Parliament Square and the Mall, while government buildings on Whitehall will be lit up in red, white and blue throughout the evening.

A countdown clock will be projected onto Number 10’s black bricks from 10pm on 31 January.

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson will host another edition of his People’s PMQ’s on Facebook, and children will be invited to Downing Street on Thursday where they will be given the chance to ask him about the future he plans to build for the next generation.

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Mr Johnson will chair a meeting of his cabinet in the North of England on Friday as he and his ministers will use this week to meet people and businesses across the UK.

The new commemorative 50p coin to mark Britain’s departure will also enter circulation on Friday.

A day after Britain leaves the EU, the government’s new “GREAT Ready to Trade” campaign will launch in 17 cities across 13 countries outside the EU.

As the UK seeks to build future trading relationships, adverts will be placed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UAE and the US.

And on Monday, a campaign with the message “This Friday the UK leaves the EU” will launch in a bid to urge businesses and citizens to check for any changes they need to make ahead of January 2021 – when the transition period is over.

Brexit Night Live: Watch and follow the moment Britain exits the EU with a special programme from 9pm on Friday 31 January


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