Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday gave her formal assent for Britain to end its decades-long involvement in the European Union (EU) and seek a more independent future at the end of the month.
With the head of state’s ceremonial approval of the withdrawal legislation, Britain can finally leave its closest neighbours and trading partners after years of bickering and delays.
Two top EU officials in Brussels are expected to sign the formal separation treaty on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the pro-Brexit figurehead of Britain’s seismic 2016 referendum — will put his name on it in the coming days.
“At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” Johnson said after both houses of the British parliament ratified the withdrawal bill on Wednesday.
“Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future.”
The January 31 split caps a remarkable political comeback for Johnson, who returned as Theresa May’s successor in July last year and has since managed to negotiate his own deal with Brussels and regain the government’s control of parliament in a risky early election last month.
Johnson will celebrate his victory by issuing commemorative coins and chairing a special cabinet meeting in England’s pro-Brexit north on January 31.
The PM will now be responsible for defining the terms on which Britain trades and shares everything from data to fishing waters with the remaining 27 EU member states.
Johnson is expected to lay out his vision for the post-Brexit agreement with Brussels in a big policy address early next month.