What time is Brexit happening tonight, December 31?

THE day has come – December 31, 2020 – when Britain officially leaves the European Union.

But what time is Brexit happening, and what will change from January 1, 2021?

⚠️ Read our Brexit live blog for the latest news & updates

What time is Brexit happening tonight, December 31?

Britain officially leaves the EU tonight, December 31.

The formal Brexit transition will happen at 11pm – one hour before the clock strikes midnight.

This is because we leave the bloc at midnight, European time, and the UK and GMT are one hour behind.

How long has it taken Britain to leave the EU after Brexit vote?

It has been a journey, to say the least.

The EU referendum took place on June 23, 2016 – which was exactly 1,652 days ago.

That's the equivalent to four years, six months, and eight days.

Three Prime Ministers have lead the country since the Brexit vote – David Cameron, who resigned in July 2016, Theresa May, who called it quits in July 2019, and the current PM, Boris Johnson.

Mrs May signalled the start of Brexit talks on March 29, 2017, when she triggered Article 50.

It is the piece of EU law that sets the rules for a country choosing to leave the Union.

Mrs May's letter to EU Council chief Donald Tusk started the clock ticking to complete exit talks.

Brexit negotiations began on June 19, 2017with David Davis and Michel Barnier meeting to begin the historic talks in Brussels.

But it took until Christmas Eve in 2020 for the deal to be made.

The PM gave the nation an early Christmas present as he secured a historic agreement – which finally sees the UK take back control from the EU.

And then MPs overwhelmingly backed the Brexit bill in a Commons vote on December 30.

They ended years of wrangling over Europe by voting 521 to 73 in favour of the PM’s last-ditch Brexit deal.

Mr Johnson said the UK would finally take control of its “national destiny”.

Tory MPs hailed it as the end of the “battle for Brexit” and praised Mr Johnson for “saving our democracy”.

What will change from January 1, 2021?

Businesses who trade within the EU and holidaymakers will feel the effects after January 1.

Freedom to work and live between the UK and the EU also comes to an end.

In 2021, UK nationals will need a visa if they want to stay in the EU more than 90 days in a 180-day period.

EU migrants who come to Britain from January 1 will not be able to claim benefits – including Universal Credit – for five years.

The UK is free to set its own trade policy and can negotiate deals with other countries – now that we're out of the EU.

Talks are being held with the US, Australia and New Zealand – countries that currently don't have free trade deals with the EU.

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