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February 2, 2020

Fireworks and song at Brexit bastion party

February 2, 2020

MORLEY, United Kingdom: "God Save The Queen" blasted from the sound system Friday and fireworks lit up the sky as Brexit-backing Morley -- a bastion of euro-scepticism in the heart of Britain -- celebrated its belated split from the EU.

"I am very happy. We were beginning to despair... But we have got it!" said Ann Lennard, 73, at a party in a rugby club in the town in Yorkshire, northern England.

Morley voted by almost 60 percent for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, and hundreds of people turned up Friday for a night of live music, speeches and a countdown to Brexit at 11:00 pm.

"I have been waiting for this since 2016," said student Joshua Spencer, 25, with a Union Jack flag draped across his shoulders and a beer in his hand.

"We have been told three times that we were leaving and we are finally are."

He admitted some concerns about Britain's economic future as its leaves the EU´s single market, its largest trading partner, "but I am happy that we can rebuild our British freedoms".

Red, white and blue flags were strung across the roof of the club, and the first song of the night was British singer Lulu's 1993 dance song "Independence".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's address to the nation, where he promised Brexit was "not an end but a beginning", was shown on a big screen.

The party was organised by local MP Andrea Jenkyns, a member of Johnson's Conservative party and an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit.

"Tonight is my big Brexit bash," she told AFP.

"We are in Brexit heartlands up in Yorkshire and everything happens in London. And I think it´s good to mark the moment by having something here."

Morley is a contender for England's most patriotic town, holding huge celebrations on the national Saint George´s Day in April.

The market town´s noted natives include World War I prime minister H.H. Asquith and "Bridget Jones" author Helen Fielding.

The main shopping street was decorated with small British flags, and Brexit voters voiced relief and satisfaction that Britain was finally leaving the EU.

After the referendum vote, parliament was locked in years of arguments about how and even if the result should be implemented.

"The last four years have been a right cock-up," said Raymond Stott, 66.

"I am just glad it's all over. We will look after ourselves. We don´t need Europe."

Brexit exposed deep divisions in British society, and the country remains split.

Local church pastor Chris Frost expressed hope that delivering the result would bring some kind of closure.

"It has really caused a lot of kind of disagreement among even friends. I think now there´s a sense of relief," the 37-year-old said.

"I am very happy that people can celebrate what they voted for."