British flags taken down at EU buildings in Brussels ahead of Brexit

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Workers remove the British flag outside the European Parliament building. PHOTO: REUTERS
An official removes the European Union flag from Britain's Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - Britain's Union Jack was removed from lines of EU member state flags at the European Council and European Parliament buildings in Brussels on Friday evening (Jan 31) ahead of the United Kingdom's exit from the bloc at midnight (7am on Saturday, Singapore time).

Britain will become the first country to quit the European Union after 47 years in the club, leaving 27 member states that will now regard it as a third country.

Two solemn-looking officials, a man and a woman, took less than a minute to take down the flag in the cavernous entrance to the European Council, which represents national leaders and sets EU policy.

They took away the flagstand, folded the Union Jack twice into a rectangle and walked without comment out of a door.

About 25 minutes later, a larger Union Jack was lowered - with some difficulty - by officials outside the European Parliament, whose 73 British lawmakers will no longer be members of the assembly after Friday.

In its place on the pole they raised the EU flag, a circle of 12 yellow stars on a blue background.

Earlier, the European Union's flag was removed from outside the British embassy to the EU in Brussels.

A man reached out of a window on the first floor of the building and pulled in the official symbol of the EU, a circle of 12 stars on a blue background, leaving only Britain's Union Jack flying on the flagpole.

With Britain's exit, it will be considered by the remaining 27 member states as a third country and its Permanent Representation to the EU will become a foreign mission.

On Saturday the name plate outside the building will be replaced, and it will now be known as the UK Mission to the European Union, which some have already dubbed "UKmissEU".

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