ATHENS/MADRID (Reuters) – With sorrow, some support for Brexit and even hope of a return, Europeans from across the EU’s 27 remaining members bade farewell to the United Kingdom on the eve of its historic departure.
The United Kingdom leaves the European Union an hour before midnight on Friday, casting off into an uncertain future that also challenges Europe’s post-World War Two project of forging unity from the ruins of conflict.
“Farewell, bye bye my love!” said Rudolf Stockey, speaking to Reuters in German.
From across Europe, EU citizens wished the United Kingdom the best after 47 years of membership. Some expressed hopes that the British might one day return to the European fold.
“Come back. I have no idea. We are not so different,” said Madrid resident Marcos Leon.
Some expressed concern that one of Europe’s biggest powers was leaving the club.
“I am very sorry that the United Kingdom is exiting. I think it is a very, very bad thing for Europe, for the United Kingdom, for everything,” said Sara Invitto, from Milan. “Goodbye!”
“I think it’s a great waste,” said Belgian Francois Heimans, who expressed worry over populism.
But some in Greece and Poland said the British were doing the right thing.
“Have a good Brexit guys,” said Petros Papakyriakos from Greece. “They are doing what is right for their economy, and I think a lot of countries will follow their lead.”
Gdansk resident Henryk Kulesza said: “It’s good that Great Britain is leaving the European Union. It’s about time. I think that Poland should do the same thing.”
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Reporting across Europe by Antonio Denti, Emily Roe, Christian Levaux, Ciara Luxton, Deborah Kyvrikosaios, Vassilis Triandafyllou, Lewis Macdonald, Dominik Starosz, Polly Rider, Ben Dadswel; Editing by Giles Elgood)