Boris Johnson to host Downing Street party to celebrate Brexit

Ministers and advisers will toast departure with English wine and British-sourced food

Boris Johnson will host a party in No 10 for cabinet ministers and pro-Brexit advisers at which guests will toast the UK’s departure from the EU with British-sourced food washed down with English sparkling wine.

Canapés will include savoury shortbread topped with Shropshire blue cheese, filet of lamb, a ploughman’s of cheddar and pickle, roast chicken skewers – probably not chlorinated – and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with a horseradish sauce.

Downing Street officials have been keen to ensure there is little triumphalism amid enthusiastic celebrations from a core of leavers.

Johnson met his cabinet in the pro-Brexit town of Sunderland on Friday morning.

At 10pm, he is scheduled to deliver a televised address to the country calling Brexit not an end but a beginning and will describe it as “a moment of real national renewal and change”.

“This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act,” Johnson will say, according to snippets released in advance by Downing Street. “This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances – your family’s life chances – should depend on which part of the country you grow up in.”

It is not yet clear whether former prime minister Theresa May will be invited to the No 10 party, which will begin at 9pm.

Downing Street itself will be illuminated by a red and blue light show, along with the Treasury, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice, HMRC, and the Cabinet Office, plus the offices of Scotland and Wales.

The Northern Ireland office, possibly due to community sensitivities over the colours of the union jack, has not been included. A digital clock will also appear in Downing Street to count down the final hour of the UK’s EU membership.

No 10 has admitted trade with the European Union will not be “frictionless” after Brexit. “You can only have fully frictionless [trade] if you accept all their rules. We have been clear that we will not be doing so, the prime minister’s spokesman said.

This will not affect travellers or businesses on Friday but is expected to be introduced next January.

(January 31, 1961)  Brefusal

The French president, Charles de Gaulle, vetoes Britain’s entry to EEC, accusing the UK of a “deep-seated hostility” towards the European project.

(January 31, 1973)  Brentry

With Sir Edward Heath having signed the accession treaty the previous year, the UK enters the EEC in an official ceremony complete with a torch-lit rally, dickie-bowed officials and a procession of political leaders, including former prime ministers Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home.

(January 31, 1975)  Referendum

The UK decides to stay in the common market after 67% voted "yes". Margaret Thatcher, later to be leader of the Conservative party, campaigned to remain.

(January 31, 1984)  'Give us our money back'

Margaret Thatcher negotiated what became known as the UK rebate with other EU members after the "iron lady" marched into the former French royal palace at Fontainebleau to demand “our own money back” claiming for every £2 contributed we get only £1 back” despite being one of the “three poorer” members of the community.

It was a move that sowed the seeds of Tory Euroscepticism that was to later cause the Brexit schism in the party. 

(January 31, 1988)  The Bruges speech

Thatcher served notice on the EU community in a defining moment in EU politics in which she questioned the expansionist plans of Jacques Delors, who had remarked that 80% of all decisions on economic and social policy would be made by the European Community within 10 years with a European government in “embryo”. That was a bridge too far for Thatcher.

(January 31, 1989)  The cold war ends

Collapse of Berlin wall and fall of communism in eastern Europe, which would later lead to expansion of EU.

(January 31, 1990) 'No, no, no'

Divisions between the UK and the EU deepened with Thatcher telling the Commons in an infamous speech it was ‘no, no, no’ to what she saw as Delors’ continued power grab. Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper ratchets up its opposition to Europe with a two-fingered “Up yours Delors” front page.

(January 31, 1992)  Black Wednesday

A collapse in the pound forced prime minister John Major and the then chancellor Norman Lamont to pull the UK out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism.

(January 31, 1993)  The single market

On 1 January, customs checks and duties were removed across the bloc. Thatcher hailed the vision of “a single market without barriers – visible or invisible – giving you direct and unhindered access to the purchasing power of over 300 million of the world’s wealthiest and most prosperous people".

(January 31, 1993) Maastricht treaty

Tory rebels vote against the treaty that paved the way for the creation of the European Union. John Major won the vote the following day in a pyrrhic victory. 

(January 31, 1997)  Repairing the relationship

Tony Blair patches up the relationship. Signs up to social charter and workers' rights.

(January 31, 1999)  Ukip

Nigel Farage elected an MEP and immediately goes on the offensive in Brussels. “Our interests are best served by not being a member of this club,” he said in his maiden speech. “The level playing field is about as level as the decks of the Titanic after it hit an iceberg.”

(January 31, 2003) The euro

Chancellor Gordon Brown decides the UK will not join the euro.

(January 31, 2004) 

EU enlarges to to include eight countries of the former eastern bloc including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

(January 31, 2007) 

EU expands again, allowing Romania and Bulgaria into the club.

(January 31, 2015) Migrant crisis

Anti-immigration hysteria seems to take hold with references to “cockroches” by Katie Hopkins in the Sun and tabloid headlines such as “How many more can we take?” and “Calais crisis: send in the dogs”.

(February 1, 2016) 

David Cameron returns from Brussels with an EU reform package - but it isn't enough to appease the Eurosceptic wing of his own party

(June 23, 2016)  Brexit referendum

The UK votes to leave the European Union, triggering David Cameron's resignation and paving the way for Theresa May to become prime minister

(January 31, 2020)  Britain leaves the EU

After years of parliamentary impasse during Theresa May's attempt to get a deal agreed, the UK leaves the EU.

In another sign of Downing Street’s desire to keep control of the narrative, Johnson’s message has been filmed by an in-house TV crew rather than the BBC or another TV station for pooled footage. No 10 said the message would be made available to all those who wanted it.

Friday night will bring very little in the way of tangible change, as the UK will move straight into a transition period involving continued EU rules to the end of 2020.

On Thursday, Downing Street reiterated the message that UK firms would then face extra paperwork and checks on goods at cross-channel borders under Johnson’s plans to diverge from EU standards.

This will be seen as a significant starting point for trade talks with the EU, which has consistently demanded alignment on regulations in exchange for zero tariffs and quotas – a so-called “level playing field”.

Johnson is due to make a speech early next week setting out plans for future trade arrangements.

UK nationals are being advised to expect new arrangements for travelling to the EU next year. A page of official government advice says people taking pets should start planning four months in advance, while drivers will need insurance documentation, and mobile phone roaming charges could return.

One change that is definitely happening on Friday night is the disappearance of the Department for Exiting the European Union. Its offices inside the Cabinet Office will be vacated and civil servants moved to other departments after a final visit of thanks from Johnson.

Steve Barclay, the Brexit secretary, will become a backbench MP – at least until an imminent reshuffle – and will be eligible for a payoff.

He will be invited to the party, the prime minister’s spokesman confirmed. “He is still a cabinet minister at 9pm,” he said.


Rajeev Syal, Kate Proctor and Peter Walker

The GuardianTramp

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