Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hail Brexit day as "the dawn of a new era" and pledge to unite Britain in an address to the nation which he hopes will draw a line under years of angry debate over the European Union.

EU brexit

India is among the countries on the UK government's target list for a new post-Brexit trade campaign from Saturday, February 1, a day after the country formally leaves the European Union, as it seeks to strike new ties with partners around the globe at the end of 47 years of EU membership.

Mumbai is among 18 cities across 13 countries to be part of the drive, designed to push the message that Britain is now free to do its own new trade deals with countries around the world.

The non-member of the soon-to-be 27-member economic bloc, after 47 years of UK membership ends on Friday.

The 'Ready to Trade' campaign

"On 1 February, the new GREAT Ready to Trade' campaign will launch in 18 cities across 13 countries outside the EU, as the UK seeks to deepen our relationships with future global partners, Downing Street said in a statement on the eve of Brexit.

The campaign will initially feature digital outdoor advertising in signature locations across the chosen cities and later expand to other activities.

Besides India, the others on the list include

  • Australia (Perth, Melbourne, Sydney). 
  • Brazil (Sao Paulo), Canada (Toronto).
  • China (Shanghai, Hong Kong).
  • Japan (Tokyo), Mexico (Mexico City).
  • Singapore (Singapore).
  • South Africa (Johannesburg).
  • South Korea (Seoul).
  • Turkey (Istanbul).
  • UAE (Dubai). 
  • USA (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago.

The UK's Department for International Trade, leading the new drive, says its GREAT brand has already proved successful around the world, with surveys indicating those who recognise it are almost twice as likely to say they would trade with the UK in the next three years than those who don't.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged a new and improved trading relationship as part of a truly special UK-India relationship on the election campaign trail last year.

But as a member of the EU, the UK was not permitted to open up any separate negotiations with other countries.

Boris Johnson
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks after the announcement of the result of the vote in the Parliament in London, Britain, Spetember 3, 2019, in this still image taken from Parliament TV footage.Reuters

With the EU Withdrawal Agreement, the so-called divorce bill costing the UK around GBP 30 billion, now having been formally passed by the European Parliament on Wednesday evening 621 votes to 49, the UK's exit on Friday at 2300 GMT (04:30 IST on Saturday) remains a mere formality.

It would then set off a transition period until the end of December this year, during which time the UK is free to conduct trade negotiations not only for a new agreement with the EU but also around the world.

It, therefore, marks a key milestone in the process set off by the Brexit vote in the June 2016 referendum.

Friday marks an important moment in the history of our United Kingdom, said Johnson, in his Brexit message.

No matter how you voted in 2016, it is the time to look ahead with confidence to the global, trail-blazing country we will become over the next decade and heal past divisions.

That is what I will be doing on 31 January and I urge everyone across the UK to do the same, he said.

Brexiteer demands the under-refurbishment Big Ben to be briefly revived to chime in the final hours of the UK's EU membership on Friday night were not approved due to cost considerations.

However, Downing Street has set out a series of activities to mark the historic moment of the UK leaving the bloc after 47 years.

A commemorative 50-pence coin will come into circulation, with Johnson being presented the very first Brexit coin which reads Peace prosperity and friendship with all nations'.

The coin has come under some criticism for a missing comma after peace, but around 13,000 people have already registered their interest in the coin with the UK's Royal Mint.

Other activities to mark Brexit Day will include a Special Cabinet on tour with the meeting of Johnson and his top team set for an undisclosed location in the north of England as a message of unity.

The UK prime minister will later address the nation just before the final Brexit hour, marked by a commemorative light display in Downing Street.

The UK's Union Jack flags will line Parliament Square and the Mall in London on Friday, with government buildings in Whitehall lit up in its red, white and blue colours throughout the evening.

Getting Brexit done

Get Brexit done

After years of political wrangling in the wake of the June 2016 EU referendum, Johnson won December's election by winning over many voters who traditionally supported the opposition Labour Party with the simple message "get Brexit done".

With a large majority of 80, the prime minister now has more freedom to mould Britain's agenda than any Conservative government since the days of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

But he also inherits a country where arguments about whether to stay in or leave the EU have divided towns, villages, friends and families for more than three years, and where many people increasingly distrust politicians.

While wanting to celebrate Brexit, Johnson is also fearful of alienating the millions of Britons who supported staying in the bloc, especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Nationalists in Scotland are increasingly pressing for a new independence vote there, while the Brexit saga has fueled talk in Northern Ireland of reunification with EU-member Ireland.

European Union chiefs vowed on Friday to find new ways of working together with Britain "as allies, partners and friends".

Johnson also wants to try to draw a line under the decades of painful battles over Europe within the Conservative Party which contributed to the downfall of four of his predecessors - Thatcher, John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May.

Instead, he will focus on boosting funding for and delivering infrastructure projects to, northern and central England, where thousands of Labour supporters switched to vote Conservative, often for the first time.

"Our job as the government — my job — is to bring this country together and take us forward," Johnson will say.

"And the most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning ... It is a moment of real national renewal and change."