Boris Johnson has signed the EU Withdrawal Agreement hours after the bloc’s two most senior figures did the same, paving the way for Brexit to happen next week.
The prime minister described his moment in Downing Street as “fantastic” and said the UK can now “move forward as one country” as he hailed the end of “far too many years of argument and division”.
Mr Johnson, who signed the treaty with a fountain pen, said the government was focused on “delivering better public services, greater opportunity and unleashing the potential of every corner of our brilliant United Kingdom”.
He also pledged to build “a strong new relationship with the EU as friends and sovereign equals”.
Earlier, Ursula Von Der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, head of the European Council, ratified the divorce deal from Brussels’ side by formally signing the treaty before it was taken to London.
Watching on from behind them was Michel Barnier, who has for the last three years been the EU’s lead negotiator in charge of brokering a divorce deal – and then several subsequent changes to please MPs.
It comes a day after the Brexit deal became UK law, when it completed its journey through parliament on getting royal assent from the Queen.
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At exactly 7am UK time, Ms Von Der Leyen announced she had signed the deal off meaning it must now be approved by the European Parliament.
Mr Michel, who used to be prime minister of Belgium, wrote in a tweet sent simultaneously: “Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We start a new chapter as partners and allies.”
He added in French: “Look forward to writing this new page together.”
The treaty was then sent to London for the prime minister to sign, escorted by EU and UK officials.
Now that Mr Johnson has put pen to paper, the document will be taken back to Brussels and a special copy will be given to Britain.
The European Parliament is expected to vote to approve the agreement on Wednesday.
Ms Von Der Leyen and Mr Michel are relatively new in their posts, having taken over from Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk respectively last winter.
They will still have a daunting task ahead of them even after Brexit happens on Thursday 31 January, as Brussels and the UK attempt to hammer out a trade deal in the next 11 months, during which time the country will continue to follow EU rules.
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SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/eus-top-two-leaders-sign-off-on-brexit-deal-with-promise-our-friendship-will-remain-11916278