British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to receive Britain’s EU divorce agreement yesterday after Brussels’ top two officials signed it at a closed door ceremony in the dead of night.
Officials from both sides accompanied the document across the Channel to London, where Johnson was to add his signature to those of EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.
Number 10 said that Johnson would sign it later in the day then return it to Brussels, where the EU will make a copy for each party.
On Wednesday next week, the text will go to the European Parliament for ratification and on Thursday diplomats from the EU member states will approve the deal in writing.
Then, on Friday, January 31, Britain spends its last day in the EU before leaving the bloc at 2300 GMT as clocks strike midnight in Brussels.
Meanwhile, EU yesterday named Joao Vale de Almeida, previously Brussels’ top diplomat to the UN and to the US, ambassador to post-Brexit Britain, to take up his duties on February 1, the United Kingdom’s first day outside the bloc.
British voters backed leaving the European Union in a June 2016 referendum, and after lengthy negotiations and several delays Johnson’s new government plans to “get Brexit done” next week.
Queen Elizabeth II gave her formal assent to the British withdrawal legislation on Thursday and the European Union is now expected to complete the final formalities in the coming days.
Britain will leave the institutions of the union, reducing it to 27 member states, but the withdrawal agreement provides for an 11-month transition period until the end of the year.