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UK announces plan to mark the Brexit moment on Jan. 31

LONDON — The British government has announced plans for gala events on the night of Jan. 31 when the country officially leaves the European Union after a prolonged political stalemate.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to make a speech that night to mark the occasion after holding a special Cabinet session in the north of England to emphasize his government’s plan to spread opportunity northward.

The government plans to mark Brexit by projecting a clock onto the prime minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street that will count down until 11 p.m. when the break takes place.

The entire government neighbourhood of Whitehall is to be illuminated for the occasion as part of a light show, with Union flags flown on all the poles in Parliament Square. The government will also circulate a commemorative coin that will enter circulation that day.

Johnson’s government is no longer actively pushing a plan to have the familiar chimes of the Big Ben clock tower sound at 11 p.m. despite a private fundraising push in support of activating the chimes, which are under repair.

Britain voted in a 2016 referendum to become the first nation to leave the 28-nation EU bloc, but the process has moved more slowly than expected.

A transition period will last until the end of 2020 as negotiators try to forge a trade arrangement between Britain and the remaining EU nations.

The Associated Press