İrem UZUN -TDO- Britain's departure from the EU on 31 January was set in stone in a historic moment for the nation as MEPs in Brussels ratified the withdrawal agreement before breaking out in a rendition of Auld Lang Syne. As the president of the European parliament, David Sassoli, announced the result of the vote, with 621 in favour to 49 against with 13 abstentions, MEPs stood almost as one to sing the Scottish song.
The vote ensures that the UK's 47 years of membership of the EU will now end at midnight central European time on Friday, after years of troubled talks and uncertainty. Sassoli concluded the session by quoting the murdered British MP Jo Cox, who was killed during the 2016 referendum campaign: "We have a lot more in common than divides us."
The debate was emotional at times, and notable for an outpouring of praise for British politicians and civil servants working in the EU's institutions for driving enlargement and breaking down barriers to trade.
Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, described Arthur Cockfield, a British commissioner in the 1980s, as the "father of our single market". She celebrated the former Labour chancellor Roy Jenkins for his role in paving the way for the founding of the single currency. But with negotiations between the EU and the UK over the future relationship due to start on 3 March, Von der Leyen also made an appeal for the British prime minister to listen to the calls of the UK's car industry and aerospace to maintain EU standards outside the bloc.