Brexiteers celebrate leaving EU
Union jacks fluttered in the London drizzle as thousands flocked to parliament Square to celebrate Brexit more than three years after voters demanded Britain leave the European Union.
An elated, proud and patriotic crowd was out in force to mark the end of 47 years in the EU, belting out anthems such as Rule Britannia.
Tom Jones' It's Not Unusual was also blasted out.
Those on the streets in the shadows of the historic Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament were bullish about the country's future and the UK's place in the world.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recently campaigned on breaking ties with Europe, said Brexit would "unleash" the nation but warned of "bumps in the road" ahead.
Mr Johnson played down the biggest triumph of his political career as he pulled focus on the challenges ahead.
"For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come," he said.
"And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss.
"Our job as the government - my job - is to bring this country together now and take us forward."
Big Ben was due to be silent at 11pm Friday local time (10am AEDT) - the precise moment of departure - but the crowd made up for it with its cheers.
Jessica Goldfinch, 53, of Norwich, said Britain would now control its destiny and its borders.
The psychology assistant said she had applied for more than 50 jobs and not had a call back because of cheaper labour coming in from the EU.
"I've been left on the shelf," she said.
"I don't blame the people, I blame the system."
Charles Evans, 56, of Oxfordshire, said he was delighted, hailing it a win for democracy which people cared very deeply about.
Gwen Waterhouse, of Lancashire, said: "We've looked after Europe for a long time, now it's time to look after ourselves.
"Great Britain is strong and it's always underestimated itself."
Mounted police and dozens of officers blocked off Great George Street, an entrance into parliament Square where anti Brexit protesters had planned but failed to gather.
British voters were split 52-48 at the 2016 referendum but Mr Johnson's thumping election win in December was seen as a further endorsement of the historic change.
Head of research at the London based Adam Smith Institute Matthew Lesh said it was a moment of great opportunity.
"After years of waiting, Britain will finally have left the European Union. This presents an opportunity for the development of an independent and prosperous nation free from the shackles of Eurocrat control," he said.
"For Australia, this means the chance to strengthen our historic bonds. The UK and Australia should aim for a comprehensive trade agreement this year that gets rid of tariffs and regulatory barriers, and provides freer movement between our two country countries."
John McTernan, a senior adviser for BCW Global and former adviser to the Australian Labor Party on its 2007 election campaign, said the past three years were a prologue.
"The people spoke. The politicians dithered. But now it is done," he said.
"Brexit is a political demand from voters who were failed by the establishment.
"The world we built - a globalised open economy- was never sold to them.
"The world they wanted was overlooked by the political establishment."
The UK immediately has now entered an 11-month transitional period that keeps the UK bound to the EU's rules.
Trade and travel across borders will largely stay the same.