LONDON — It happened — the United Kingdom walked away from the world’s largest political and economic club.
After 47 years of membership — and more than three years of political uncertainty, rancor and division — the United Kingdom officially left the European Union on Friday.
The Brexit divorce was made official at the stroke of 11 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET), with the image of a countdown clock projected onto Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official residence, No. 10 Downing St.
With a population of more than 513 million, the E.U. has its roots in the years after World War II, created partly from a desire to ensure no such conflict could ever happen again. It is one of a handful of institutions that have come to define the postwar consensus and even the West itself — but a pact that in recent years has been put under extreme strain.