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Brexiteers sing God Save The Queen in Belfast as clock strikes 11pm

Hundreds of people gathered in Parliament Square in central London at 11pm.
Jan 31st 2020, 1:10 PM 44,367 84

Updated Jan 31st 2020, 11:35 PM

brexit Pro-Brexit supporters outside Stormont in Belfast Source: Brian Lawless.PA

THE MOMENT THE UK officially left the EU was marked with cheers and the singing of God Save The Queen at the gates of Northern Ireland’s seat of government.

Crowds started gathering from 10.30pm in preparation to hear the distinctive sound of a Lambeg drum being played.

DUP MLA Jim Wells led a countdown from 10 to 11pm before shouting “freedom” to cheers and the waving of union flags and sparklers at Stormont’s front gates.

A piper then played to mark the moment.

The event, billed as a thanksgiving, was opened with a prayer before speakers including Wells and independent unionist councillor Henry Reilly addressed those assembled.

“This is a happy day for our nation, this means that our nation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland moves out from the bondage of Europe to the freedom of the rest of the world,” Wells said.

“We have an economy that is bigger than Russia, that is bigger than India, we are the fifth largest trading nation in the world and therefore we have a wonderful opportunity as a nation to go out and to trade and to prosper and I am confident that we will do so.

“The people who are telling us tonight represents a major disaster were the same people that told us 14 years ago that if we didn’t join the euro the British economy would collapse, well how wrong were they because had we had joined the euro, then we during the recession would have been in a disastrous situation.”

brexit The crowds started arriving earlier today, defying the rain to be present, at Parliament Street in London. Source: Jonathan Brady/PA

Hundreds gathered at Westminster for a Brexit celebration to mark the UK leaving the European Union.

A music system was set up on the back of a lorry on Parliament Street, with people dancing in a closed-off section of the road to music by Sir Tom Jones and Queen.

As one man walked through the crowd with an EU flag draped over his shoulders, another man carrying the Union Flag shouted at him: “Go away loser.”

Dozens of people gathered around the Sir Winston Churchill statue, while others rang bells and banged a drum attached to a modified cart called Little Ben.

The cart belongs to David and Nancy Waller, who travelled from Shropshire to take part in the Brexit Celebration.

Waller, 59, said the cart cost about £500 to restore and build, thanks to a “Brexiteer” blacksmith who donated his services free.

He said the bell, which people have been ringing throughout the evening, was found in a salvage yard but was originally forged at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London.

Waller said: “We have come here because we are great supporters of democracy. At one stage we thought it was all over, but it ain’t now.”

Addressing the crowd from a stage before the 20-second countdown, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: “This is something that I fought for – for 27 years and something that many thousands of you gave your time and money for.

“We faced an established that didn’t even want to listen to us. An establishment that never wanted that referendum to take place. An establishment that tried for three and a half years to frustrate the will of the greatest democratic mandate ever seen.”

He added: “The people have beaten the establishment. The real winner tonight is democracy.

“Let us celebrate tonight as we have never done before. This is the greatest moment in the modern history of our great nation.”

At 11pm, bongs from Big Ben were played out through speakers. It was followed by a rendition of the national anthem, with the lyrics produced on a large screen above the stage.

brexit A pro-Brexit supporter pours beer onto an EU flag in Parliament Square, London, Source: Jonathan Brady/PA

brexit Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe leaving the EU parliament with other members. Source: Yui Mok/PA Images

Irish demonstrations

Hundreds of anti-Brexit campaigners have taken part in a number of demonstrations along the Irish border in opposition to Brexit.

The anti-Brexit protests organised by the Border Communities Against Brexit group and Sinn Fein were held to mark the UK leaving the European Union.

Protesters gathered at six locations along the border in counties Louth, Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Donegal on Friday night.

Around 200 people gathered a few miles from Newry to voice their opposition to Brexit.

brexit Source: Brian Lawless/PA Images

The anti-Brexit campaigners also demanded for Northern Ireland to continue to have a voice in the EU after the UK leaves.

In an earlier protest, Border Communities Against Brexit activists unveiled a new billboard declaring the “fight goes on”.

They urged the Irish Government and the restored Stormont Executive to push for some form of continued representation in EU structures.

It comes as the region’s three MEPs leave the European Parliament ahead of Brexit.

Border Communities Against Brexit expressed relief that a hard border with security check points appeared to have been avoided but warned the process was not over and there remained the risk of a damaging no-deal on trade.

Speaking on the Northern Ireland side of the border, campaigner Declan Fearon said: “Today we meet all the parties at Stormont and one of things we would like to impress upon them is the urgent need for both the Executive in Stormont and the Irish Government to address the issue of representation for communities.

“We are entitled to be represented in Europe, we are still part of the single market, we should have that representation at the table, even in an advisory role.

“We have actually spoken to Mr Verhofstadt (former Brexit co-ordinator for the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt) and members of the European Union on that issue and he said they had absolutely no problem whatsoever in allowing that to happen.

“It’s up to the Irish Government especially and indeed to the new Executive at Stormont to make sure that they push for that to happen.”

With reporting from Sean Murray

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