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Britain officially completes Brexit divorce from EU, embraces new economic independence

The law was passed on the eve of the expiration of the transition period

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Flags of the European Union
Flags of the European Union
(Ian Waldie / Getty Images)
Updated: January 1, 2021 - 12:15am

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Britain on Thursday finished its Brexit quest, officially divorcing itself from the European Union in one of the biggest economic shakeups for the continent in over a half century.

Britain left the European bloc’s vast single market for people, goods and services at 11 p.m. London time, midnight in Brussels, according to the Associated Press.

The move completing the biggest single economic change the country has experienced since World War II.

A different U.K.-EU trade deal will bring new restrictions and red tape, but for British Brexit supporters, it means reclaiming national independence from the EU and its web of rules, the wire service also reported.

Lawmakers in Britain voted on Wednesday to back the UK's post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union. The vote came just one day before the December 31 deadline that ends the transitions period during which England exited the EU.

The bill passed by a grand majority of 521-73 after stops in both Houses of Parliament. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs that the deal will "open a new chapter in our national story," allowing the UK to "control our laws and national security."

"This bill, it embodies our vision -- shared with our European neighbors -- of a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals, joined by friendship, commerce, history, interests and values, while respecting one another's freedom of action and recognizing that we have nothing to fear if we sometimes choose to do things differently," said the prime minister.

Prior to Wednesday, the bill had received provisional approval from the heads of the European Union. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter, "It has been a long road. It's time now to put Brexit behind us. Out future is made in Europe."

The final agreement will be reviewed by the European Parliament at a later date. Its passage marks the final step toward a fully independent Great Britain, more than four years after the country's citizenry voted to leave the EU behind. 

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