The European Parliament today approved the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union at its plenary session in Brussels, paving the way for the UK to officially leave the EU on January 31.
Following the vote European Parliament President David Sassoli said:
“It deeply saddens me to think that we have come to this point and that a longtime EU member, partner and friend has decided to leave our EU family. This is the last plenary session in which our British colleagues will be by our side in this Chamber. Therefore, on behalf of Parliament, I would like to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to them for their contribution over the years. Their presence has enriched our institution and they will be missed.
“Today is a day full of emotions: we are grateful for the valuable contribution provided by the United Kingdom, and in particular, by British Members, but at the same time we feel a sense of sadness for the fact that we can no longer continue our European journey together.
“We obviously respect and fully accept the decision of the people of the United Kingdom and their wish to build a different future outside the EU. We will continue to be close friends and partners; the things we have in common from a shared history and geography to our values will lead us to continue to cooperate closely in almost every area. However, our relationship will be different, this is inevitable, and in ways, that we still cannot fully foresee.
“Fifty years of integration cannot easily dissolve. We will all have to work hard to build a new relationship, always focusing on the interests and protection of citizens’ rights. Nothing will be simple. There will be difficult situations that will test our future relationship. We knew this from the start of Brexit. I am sure, however, that we will be able to overcome any differences and always find a common meeting point. You are leaving the European Union, but you will continue to be a European nation.”
“Dear British friends, in Italian addio is too definitive a word, which is why together with all my colleagues I say only arrivederci. I want to leave you with the words of Jo Cox, the UK MP killed during the referendum campaign: “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”