Boris Johnson has heralded “the dawn of a new era” where life chances are not dictated by where you live, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union after three and a half years of turmoil.
The Prime Minister will today address the nation to tell voters that as the country parts way with the EU at 11pm, the moment marks “not an end, but a beginning”.
He will say: “This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act.
“It is a moment of real national renewal and change.
“This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances – your family’s life chances – should depend on which part of the country you grow up in.”
To mark Brexit Day a special Cabinet meeting will be held in Sunderland, underling the Government’s election promises to invest in the North and take powers out of London.
Sunderland was chosen as it was the first city to declare support for leaving the EU after the referendum votes had been counted.
Mr Johnson will say, in a televised speech,: “Our job as the Government – my job – is to bring this country together and take us forward.
“And the most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning.”
He will add: “This is the moment when we begin to unite and level up.”
Boris Johnson owes much of his December election victory to the North of England, as voters lent him their support and allowed him to decimate the ‘Red Wall’ - ultimately leading him to victory.
But he has been told purely surface-level gestures will not suffice, and people want to see “money in their pockets”.
Thirsk and Malton Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake said although holding the Cabinet meeting in the North was clearly a symbolic gesture, he believed it would lead to more concrete changes.
He said: “It was a fantastic result across the country [at the election], and across the North, so it’s not just about us saying to people ‘thanks, we’ve delivered for you’, it’s about winning the next election so we have to make sure the North feels more valued.
“That’s got to be about putting money in people’s pockets.”
He said this would come through better job and training opportunities, and improving transport links and infrastructure.
He added: “There’s no doubt about it, Boris is making a lot of the North and he’s also surrounded by people from the North and for the North, I’m sure they will be making the point very strongly that it’s got to be concrete.”
Leeds Central Labour MP Hilary Benn said one of the big tests for Mr Johnson’s Government would be whether he delivered on HS2, with a decision expected in the coming days.
He said: “If I was a newly-elected Conservative MP I’d be supporting it.
“It’s a real test for the Government.”
Mr Johnson has the North to thank not only for his election victory but also for the EU Referendum result in 2016.
Yorkshire and the Humber voted resoundingly to leave the EU.
The majority of areas backed leave with only Leeds, Harrogate and York backing remain.
Prominent Brexiteer and Morley and Outwood MP Andrea Jenkyns has organised a Big Brexit Bash this evening to mark the event.
She said: “After three years of people trying to tamper with democracy, we finally delivered Brexit and respected the will of the people.
“Now we have one year to complete a good deal with the EU that protects our jobs and business, our fishing waters and our independence.
“We will have a friendly relationship with our European neighbours, but we will be finally free to trade with the rest of the world.”
In London, Brexiteers will gather for a party in Parliament Square led by Nigel Farage, while Union flags are already flying around Westminster.
Very little will change at the moment of Brexit as a result of the deal which Mr Johnson agreed with Brussels and the 27 remaining member states.
But the UK faces further uncertainty as both sides seek to strike a trade deal by the end of the year.
In official events, Downing Street will be illuminated with a light show and a new 50p coin will enter circulation.
In Brussels, the UK flag will be removed from the EU institutions, with one Union flag expected to be consigned to a museum.
In Scotland, which voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum, candlelit vigils are planned.