Vigils and celebrations as Scots mark Brexit day

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candlelit vigil in EdinburghImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
An event named Missing EU Already was staged outside the Scottish Parliament

Candlelit vigils have taken place across Scotland as part of a series of events marking Brexit day.

Organisers of the Leave a Light On gatherings invited people to join them to mark the "sad occasion" of the UK's exit from the European Union.

Meanwhile, supporters of Brexit gathered in Glasgow's George Square to celebrate the moment at 23:00 when the country officially left the EU.

Scots voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

The overall UK result backed Leave by 51.9% to 48.1%.

Image source, Getty Images
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The Edinburgh vigil was among the first to get under way

In Edinburgh, a Missing EU Already rally took place outside the Scottish Parliament. It was organised by the Edinburgh Yes Hub, which backs Scottish independence.

The BBC's Lorna Gordon said there were cheers from the crowd as the Scottish government's Brexit minister, Mike Russell, told supporters the only way Scotland could rejoin the EU was to become an independent nation.

"This is the start of something, not the end", he said.

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Former SNP MEP Alyn Smith, now a Westminster MP, said: "We are a European nation and we want to remain a European nation."

SNP MPs Joanna Cherry and Tommy Sheppard have been among the other speakers, and organisers plan a candlelit vigil and a farewell march with EU flags on display.

Image caption,
Pro-EU crowds gathered in Edinburgh

Similar events took place in Aberdeen, Dundee and Stirling, among other locations.

Ahead of the vigils, Brexit day was marked in Glasgow at one of the city's most famous landmarks.

The red and white traffic cone normally seen on the statue of the Duke of Wellington was replaced with a headpiece adorned in the colours of the EU flag.

Image source, Mark McGillivray
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Glasgow's famous Duke of Wellington statue was sporting a cone adorned with the colours of the EU flag on Brexit day.

There was a heavy police presence in the city centre as groups for and against Brexit held events minutes away from each other ahead of the moment the UK officially left the EU.

Pro-EU campaigners in the Glasgow gathered at the Donald Dewar statue on Buchanan Street for an event organised by Glasgow Loves EU.

During the torchlit gathering, they sang Ode to Joy and Auld Lang Syne when they remembered their "auld acquaintances" from across Europe.

Image caption,
Pro-EU demonstrators gathered outside Marischal College in Aberdeen

In nearby George Square, pro-Brexit group A Force For Good held a party, with the crowd cheering a speaker saying they were "celebrating British independence".

They waved union flags and sang Rule Britannia as they marked the official Brexit moment.

During Friday afternoon, a group of about 50 pro-EU demonstrators gathered outside Marischal College in Aberdeen.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A Force for Good has staged smaller counter-protests to the large Scottish independence marches

Earlier First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said many Scots felt a "real and profound sadness" which was also tinged with anger, at the UK's departure from the EU.

At the moment of Brexit, she tweeted that "Scotland will return to the heart of Europe as an independent country".

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Two Scottish government buildings, St Andrew's House and Victoria Quay, were lit in the blue and yellow colours of the European flag to mark Brexit day.

The EU flag will continue to fly at St Andrew's House and Victoria Quay, as well as at Scotland House in Brussels, and at Holyrood after MSPs overturned a decision to take it down.

And in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, a Brexit tree was planted to mark the date of the UK departure from the EU.

Arts organisation Deveron Projects said the weeping willow had been chosen as it embodied "notions of both sorrow and healing".