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London:

 
Britain officially left the European Union (EU) on Friday, marking a historic end to its 47-year-long membership of the world’s largest trading bloc.

The historic moment, which happened at 23:00 GMT, was marked by both celebrations and anti-Brexit protests.

It also marks the start of a transition period that will last till the end of this year as negotiators try to forge a trade arrangement between Britain and the EU, Xinhua news agency reported.

The departure, 1,317 days after Britain voted to leave the bloc, carries not only enormous symbolic weight but also significant legal consequences.

It concluded three years of fractious debates over whether the country should really leave the bloc, the terms of its departure and the kind of relationship it should forge with Europe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet began on Friday with a meeting in Sunderland, a city in northern England that was the first to announce it had voted in favour of leaving the European Union on the night of the 2016 referendum.

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