More than three and a half years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, it’s finally happened.
Even if the full consequences will not be felt for some time — with the UK remaining in a transition period due to expire at the end of this year — Friday was an historic day.
Across Europe, headlines and front pages reflected the magnitude of the occasion. Newspapers in the UK were split between joy and gloom, while on the Continent, sadness and resignation prevailed.
— The Guardian’s front page features a little sandcastle topped with the U.K. flag, while the white cliffs of Dover loom in the background. “Small island,” the headline reads, calling Brexit “the biggest gamble in a generation.”
— The Daily Hate Mail also went for an image featuring Dover’s cliffs, saluting Brexit as a “new dawn for Britain.” The U.K., it said, is now “free and independent once more.”
— “Britain bows out of the EU with a mixture of optimism and regret,” reads the front page of the Financial Times, while The Times looks ahead to trade prospects after Brexit: “PM wants Canada-style trade deal with Brussels,” it says.
— “Farewell, not goodbye,” says the headline of The Scotsman, whose front page shows the British, Scottish and EU flags and the word “farewell” in various EU languages. The National, meanwhile, put a lone candle surrounded by the EU flag on its front page. Reminding Europe that a majority of Scots voted against Brexit, it called on the bloc to “leave a light on for Scotland.”
— “It’s been quite a ride,” says City A.M., picturing Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, Theresa May, Jean-Claude Juncker, Nigel Farage, David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn on a rollercoaster.
— Le Monde says that “Europe enters the unknown” after Brexit, warning that U.K.’s departure “weakens the EU diplomatically.
Dagens Nyheter went for an image of the clock tower housing Big Ben with the EU flag in the background. One of the flag’s stars is coming off to reveal the Union Jack. “The countdown is over,” it says.
Many of Germany’s major newspapers barely mentioned Brexit on their front pages, though most prominently featured the topic on their websites.
— Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s front page showed two clocks on Brussels and London time, respectively. The paper wrote that while arduous negotiations may lie ahead, it is important to “always look on the bright side of life.”
— Die Welt focused Brexit frictions between London and Scotland, running an interview with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon under the headline “Boris Johnson can’t stand in our way forever.”
— The U.K. and the EU “need each other,” wrote Die Zeit, adding that “the EU and Great Britain are now competitors. They will have to practice fair competition in the future — if they don’t succeed, both will lose.”
— Brexit is “a lesson for Poland,” writes Gazeta Wyborcza, adding that it is “an answer to the EU crisis, but it is the false answer.”
— De Tijd shows an EU flag being torn apart by the wind. “Dear British friends,” it says, “we regret Brexit, but we hope this is not the end.”
— Le Soir opted for a Beatles reference: “Let it be,” says its front page, using as a background Banksy’s image of a man hammering away at a star in the EU flag.
Italy’s front pages were dominated by coronavirus news.
— La Stampa decided to focus on the trade talks ahead, saying that in Brussels the common perception is “We won’t make it,” given the relatively short time until the transition period runs out on December 31, 2020.
— “Britain is leaving the EU not with a bang but with a whimper,” the Irish Times wrote, suggesting the messy Brexit procedure since 2016 “may not have been about Europe after all.” Its front page features a cartoon of Boris Johnson dressed up as clown.
Brexit wasn’t mentioned on the front pages of many major Spanish papers either, with the coronavirus crisis taking precedence.
— “The European Union starts a new era at midnight without the United Kingdom,” El País wrote on its front page.
— Danish daily Berlingske said “Bye-bye, Brits,” showing a bowler hat hanging by a thread from a Union Jack balloon. As the “Union Jack is being removed from Brussels,” the paper wrote, “the remaining 27 member countries and the U.K. embark on a new era.” Politiken simply wrote: “See you”.