This is how Lancashire is planning to countdown to Brexit Day
The big day is almost upon us. And as the clock strikes 11pm on Friday night, Britain will formally step out of the EU and into the unknown.
After 47 years of marriage to Europe, the UK will enter the first phase of a Brexit divorce which everyone hopes will be amicable, although no-one knows for sure.
But when we wake up on Saturday, it won’t be to a brave new world - not yet anyway - just more of the same.
Strangely, at such a momentous point in the history of the British Isles, the morning after the night before will just feel like any other day.
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Few people will be out celebrating in Lancashire, it seems. There are no civic events planned across the entire county.
Councils across Lancashire have decided not to mark the occasion with any official events and only a handful of pubs in the county will be flying the flag.
However, the Northern Way pub (formerly O’Neill’s and Shenanigans) in Friargate is planning to make a day of Brexit with a “good old fashioned knees-up” from 3pm on Friday.
“It’s a moment of history and it should be marked,” said operator Olly Mattinson. “So we are laying on a big patriotic party and we’ve had loads of interest from people wanting to come.
There will be best of British music and it will be a good excuse to have a right good do. We’ve got 16 screens and we will be showing the countdown and the PM’s address to the nation.”
On the Fylde Coast, local Tory MP Paul Maynard is hosting a “Brexit Celebration” at the Ashley Club in Thornton-Cleveleys with a champagne reception.
Conversely, a group called Preston For Europe is organising a candlelit vigil from 10pm on Preston Flag market on Friday - including a two-minute silence mourning our exit from the EU.
On the national stage, plans to have Big Ben ‘bong’ have been axed, but Downing Street will be illuminated by a huge clock counting down to Brexit and the PM will address the nation on TV.
The Transition Period
The deadline may mean we are officially out of the EU family, yet we will still be bound by its rules.
Britain will remain members of the single market and the customs union. And we will continue paying into Europe’s budget. We just won’t have any say in how things are run.
Travel between us and the EU will carry on as normal. British nationals will enjoy the same rights living, working, studying and retiring in Europe. And the same will apply for EU visitors in the UK.
Passport regulations will not change and EHIC cards will remain valid. Even mobile phone roaming charges abroad will stay as they are. So what has all the fuss been about?
As Boris Johnson’s government “takes back control” at the third attempt after two previous postponements and more than three years of mind-numbing stalemate, we will enter a transition period during which the UK and EU will carry on as normal while trying to thrash out the precise details of a divorce deal which will see the “decree nisi” become a “decree absolute” by the end of the year.
While all that is going on, life will continue as before. Our supermarkets will still sell Danish bacon, Spanish oranges, Belgian beer, French cheese, German sausages and Italian ice cream.
We will still export cars, aircraft parts, machinery and pharmaceuticals to Europe. Our farmers will still sell their livestock, cereals, meat and dairy products on the continent.
The only change as we say “au revoir” to Brussels tonight is the UK will no longer be a member of the EU and thus Britons, if they are bothered, will no longer be EU citizens.