There was no shortage of spirit – in Parliament Square – despite the booze ban.
Several thousand Brexiteers gathered to celebrate the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Many of them thought this day would never come after delays and arguments in the House of Commons.
Most were happy and in celebratory mood but under the surface the toxic legacy of Brexit and the culture wars ravaging the nation were all too clear.
As journalists did their broadcasts, shouts of “fake news” could be heard in the background. A protest group of cyclists rode past early on and hurled abuse at the Brexiteers, calling them “Nazi scum”.
For many the night wasn’t about celebrating, it was instead an evening of sorrow. One man took great delight in telling me that the rain represented Remainers’ tears.
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The rally organised by Leave Means Leave was supposed to have fireworks and live music – but that never happened because the permissions never came.
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It didn’t seem to matter as Mr Brexit, Nigel Farage, was introduced to the sounds of The Final Countdown by Swedish band, Europe.
As he spoke, he worked the crowd and they, for their part, lapped up his speech.
News clips from the past were shown on a big screen of the key moments of the UK’s long and often thorny relationship with the European Union.
Cheers went up when Margaret Thatcher appeared, but there were jeers and boos for Tony Blair. One member of the crowd told me it was like a Punch and Judy show.
The biggest cheers went up, though, when the clock struck 11pm and the UK was out.
This was followed by thunderous applause and a rendition of God Save The Queen – for the Brexiteers sovereignty and pride had been restored.
There’s no doubt though that although Brexit is now moving forwards the country remains bitterly divided.
Many Remainers commiserated at home. One told me that the only consolation of this historic date was the fact it was the end of dry January.
SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/brexit-party-like-punch-and-judy-show-as-toxic-mood-persists-11923288