Brexit Day: ‘Our time has come’ – what the UK papers say

‘Tonight on the stroke of 11pm our nation’s course changes for ever and for the better’

Brexit Party members of the European Parliament, Jack Pugh and David Bull, leave  parliament on Thursday. Photograph: Seán Gallup/Getty

Brexit Party members of the European Parliament, Jack Pugh and David Bull, leave parliament on Thursday. Photograph: Seán Gallup/Getty

 

The British newspapers have marked Brexit Day with a series of front pages which reflect their coverage of the EU over the last 40 years. Predictably, the leave-supporting press has hailed Brexit Day as a day of liberation.

The Sun has a picture of Big Ben on its front page though ironically attempts to get the bell to ring for 11pm will not happen. “Our time has come,” the newspaper declares. “Tonight at 11pm, after 30 years of resistance to the creeping danger of a European superstate, the great people of the United Kingdom have at last finally ... Got Brexit Done.”

In its front page editorial, the Sun Says, the newspaper continues: “Tonight on the stroke of 11pm our nation’s course changes for ever and for the better. We will finally be out of the EU. Forty-seven years and 30 days after we joined. Three decades since the rot set in with the drive towards a United States of Europe. Seven years after David Cameron promised a referendum and three and a half years since Leave won it. It is hard to exaggerate the magnitude of this moment. Other EU nations saw their referendums overturned or ignored. We would not be bullied into a rethink.”

The Daily Mail has an image of the white cliffs of Dover on its front page. It states: “A new dawn for Britain. At 11pm our proud nation finally leaves the EU - still a friend of Europe, but free and independent, once more after 47 years. Now on this momentous day, we salute a new dawn for Britain.”

The rabidly pro-Brexit Daily Express headline “Yes we did it!” is juxtaposed beside a map of the UK made up of a montage of the paper’s front pages campaigning against Europe. “At 11pm tonight, we will leave the EU and on this momentous occasion the PM will herald a new era of ‘renewal and change’ for Britain.”

The Daily Telegraph has been the one UK broadsheet which has consistently campaigned for Brexit. The paper has published a self-congratulatory eight-page supplement highlighting its role in getting Brexit done. The headline says it all. “Euroscepticism was in our DNA – How the Telegraph stood up to the establishment elite over three decades to push forward the views of the silent majority.”

The paper’s editorial echoes Winston Churchill. “Tonight Britain departs from the EU, but, as Boris Johnson will tell the nation, this is not an end, it is a beginning. Mr Johnson recognises that Brexit is a unique opportunity to rethink the way we do everything. Britain is taking back control, and once our lawmakers are fully in charge, there will be no one else to blame for error or inaction. The future will be in our hands.”

The Times newspaper, which campaigned to remain, takes a neutral view on Brexit Day. “For most the primary emotion is likely to be one of relief. A line will finally be drawn under a debate that has split the country and divided families and friends since the moment that David Cameron called a referendum on Britain’s European Union membership”.

The Financial Times front page has the same ambivalent note. “Britain bows out of EU with a mixture of optimism and regret”.

It is business as usual for the Daily Mirror which features the coronavirus story on its front page and reserves only a panel beside the masthead for Brexit Day.

The pro-European Guardian newspaper strikes a sombre note. It too depicts the Cliffs of Dover in the background with a small sand castle and British flag in the foreground. “Small island”, the paper’s headline declares. “After 47 years, Britain leaves the EU at 11pm tonight – the biggest gamble in a generation”. Curiously the paper has no editorial on Brexit Day, but does include a double-page spread on British citizens’ rights after Brexit.

The Independent, which also campaigned to remain, says goodbye in all the languages of the EU. “Today Britain leaves the EU,” it declares and adds hopefully. “Is it inevitable that we will one day rejoin?”

The Scottish newspapers strike an angry, regretful tone as reflected in the country’s 62-38 vote to remain in the EU. The Daily Record features a copy of the 50p coin which has been minted to celebrate Brexit. Instead of the “peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”, as is written on the coin, the Daily Record has included the words “isolated, worse off, weaker and divided”. It adds: “Short changed, Britain will never be the same again”.

The Scotsman pointedly includes a photograph of the European Union flag on its front with the headline “farewell, not goodbye”.

The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland also features the EU flag surrounding a candle. “Dear Europe, We didn’t vote for this. Remember to ... leave a light on for Scotland”

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