January 31, 2020 / 6:58 PM / 22 days ago

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

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 ahead of the United Kingdom’s exit from the bloc at midnight (2300 GMT).

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.

Reporting by John Chalmers; Editing by Alison Williams

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