BORIS Johnson will declare “the dawn of a new era” for Britain as the nation leaves the EU at 11pm tonight.
And he will pledge to dedicate his Premiership to ending the country’s stark geographical divides once and for all.
Boris will insist: “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.
“This is the moment when we begin to unite and level up.”
The United Kingdom becomes first ever country to walk away from Brussels, after 46 years of membership.
While 28 countries have joined the European Union, not one has ever left it before.
To mark his intent on the historic day, Mr Johnson – who led the Leave campaign in 2016 – takes his entire Cabinet to Sunderland for a special meeting to discuss his ‘levelling up’ agenda to ensure parts of the country are never left behind again.
The North East city has a close association with Brexit, as the first population centre to declare its backing for an EU breakaway on the night of the June 2016 referendum count.
During the Cabinet meeting, entitled ‘Levelling up in Action’, senior ministers will be asked to play back everything communities and businesses have told them needs to change, after a day of visits across the North.
On his return to Downing Street, the PM will host a big a party for all No10 staff, from senior civil servants to doormen, to celebrate the big moment.
But he will not make a public appearance to mark the moment of Brexit itself, in a bid not to rub sorrowful Remainers’ noses in it.
Instead, No10 will issue a pre-recorded address from Boris filmed in his study at 10pm, in which the PM will also issue a plea for all Brits to use the landmark moment to unite after four years of bitter Brexit divisions.
Boris will also say in it: “Our job as the government – my job – is to bring this country together and take us forward.
“And the most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning.
“This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act.
“It is a moment of real national renewal and change.”
A red, white and blue-themed light show will then be projected on to No10’s front, including a large countdown clock for the final hour up to 11pm.
It will project what aides dubbed as “a special surprise” for the stroke of 11pm.
Meanwhile on Parliament Square, union flags will be raised all around it and Brexit Party boss Nigel Farage will host an open air party.
The veteran anti-EU campaigner will play Big Ben’s bongs on a loud speaker at 11pm, after Commons bosses refused to reconnect the clock’s bells, which are in the middle of repairs.
In other official events, the commemorative edition new 50p coin will enter circulation.
In Brussels, the UK flag will be lowered from all EU institutions.
The Belgian capital has already dressed its famous Mannekin Pis statue of a urinating boy in a John Bull costume, complete with Union flag waistcoat.
In Scotland, which voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum, candlelit vigils are planned.
The Leave a Light On gatherings are taking place in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, and Stirling, among other locations, and participants intend to send a message to the EU to keep open a place for Scotland.
European capitals gave the final legal sign off to the Brexit deal by email today – officially placing it on the EU statute books.
Ambassadors for the 27 Member States based in Brussels were sent a four-question survey moments after the EU Parliament backed the agreement.
They were asked to answer yes, no, or abstain to each on behalf of their national leaders and send replies in to the Council by 1pm local time.
They all answered yes to all four questions, according to EU officials.
The Department for Exiting the EU also formally closes down at 11pm tonight, when its boss Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay also leaves the Cabinet when his job is abolished.
The PM met staff at DexEU yesterday afternoon to thank them for their hard work over the last three and a half years.
Telling them they were witnessing “a historic time”, he added: “Without your combined efforts we would not be where we are today”.
Writing in The Sun, Priti Patel adds: “It’s done. Today we will finally leave the EU.
“It’s time to come together as a country to heal old wounds. It’s time to unleash the full potential of the British people. It’s time to write the next chapter of our brilliant history.”
But with the PM still facing the titanic challenge of having to tie up a trade deal with the EU in just 11 months by December 31, business bosses also issued please to the PM to head their asks.
British Chambers of Commerce boss Dr Adam Marshall said Brexit will bring “a mixture of regret for some and celebration for others”.
He added: “The government must clearly communicate what those changes will be – and provide timely guidance and support to help firms adapt and make the most of new opportunities as Britain sets its own trading polices”.
Labour leadership hopeful Sir Keir Starmer last night called on Boris to give the three million European nationals living in the UK the right to vote in general elections.
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The Shadow Brexit Secretary insisted that “the way they have been treated over the past three years is shameful”.
To raise cash for party coffers, the Tory Party last night began an online auction to win what it dubbed was “a lifetime chance” to win a copy of the Brexit deal with Brussels signed by the PM.
Entries cost £5 each.
Wee are out… what a relief!
BRUSSELS’ famous peeing boy landmark was dressed in a Union Jack waistcoat, top hat and suit jacket ahead of Brexit.
Manneken Pis, left, a sculpture of a naked lad urinating in a fountain, was clad in the style of John Bull.
Locals are used to seeing costume changes at the landmark — with the figure dressed in different outfits from around the world.
In the same city on Wednesday, MEPs approved the Brexit deal.
CLOCKS across Britain will chime at 11pm tonight as the UK shakes off the shackles of the EU.
In London’s Downing Street, a countdown will be projected on to No 10.
And elsewhere, revellers will gather to see local landmarks tick off the final minutes.