The European Parliament voted in Brussels on Wednesday to ratify the withdrawal agreement that governs Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, which will formally happen on Friday at midnight Brussels time.

The occasion was marked by speechifying and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.” Some European legislators put up a sign reading, hopefully: “It’s not goodbye, it’s au revoir” — an “until we meet again.”

The vote — something of a relieved whimper rather than a bang, as its result was expected — brings to an end three and a half years of confusion, political division and missed deadlines. The vote passed by 621 to 49, with 13 abstentions.


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