Somewhere in Brussels there may well be a man checking the abnormal curvature of a banana, praising the gods of tabloid headlines that – finally - those pesky Brits have finally gone.  

He’s probably next to the man mulling over whether jam made with beetroot or fish or nuclear waste can really be called jam or is it really a sugar and additives-based spread?

Perhaps there really is a metric measurements department which thanks to good old British John Bull fighting spirit, failed miserably to have us all asking for un kilo d’escargots s’il vous plait and paying with Euros.

Never mind the screaming tabloid headlines, the bent bananas that never really were, the cod wars, butter mountains and wine lakes, John Major’s Maastricht Treaty b*stards, Tory tantrums and the failed bid to make anyone over the age of 35 think in kilos and metres, Britain will officially leave the EU tonight at 11pm.

So long, Europe. Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, adieu... 

For those who quite liked the freedom of movement, didn’t mind the £580 million of EU subsidies which flowed every year to Scotland’s farmers – despite the paperwork - and who enjoyed the French cheese, German wine and Spanish olives without having to pay a customs duty, today may feel like saying au revoir to an old chum; that old mate who might not be on your list of favourite folk but who you wouldn’t deliberately avoid. 

On the other hand, sailing regally into the sunset waving Union Flags and singing Rule Britannia, the Eurosceptics who loathed Brussels for its perceived threat to parliamentary sovereignty and the pound, for the £350 million a week that could go to the NHS if not for Brussels and the jobs occupied by foreign workers, will tonight uncork their English Coates and Seely Brut Reserve fizz and planning to party like it’s 1973. 

But it was a different story in post-war battered Britain, when Tory Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill was floating the idea of a United States of Europe. 

Scarred by two devastating world wars, determined to heal wounds and swap war for peace, his gravelly voice was among the loudest suggesting action to establish stronger links across European nations. 

Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed the historic Treaty of Rome in March 1957 to lay the foundations for a new European Economic Community that would end customs duties, open trade routes, forge improved relations and introduce a Common Agricultural Policy. 

A new era of entente cordiale was up and running. International travel was opening British eyes to a continental way of life, work and trade. A new Europe was right on the doorstep.

What was there not to love? 

Indeed, we loved the idea of being part of a European community so much that the UK twice eagerly chapped on the door only to be given a blunt ‘non’ thanks to French President Charles de Gaulle’s government’s veto.

Britain, the French leader argued – perhaps with remarkable foresight – had a “deep-seated hostility” to a European union. Our economy, from our working practices to agriculture was “incompatible” with Europe. 

Here, sceptics feared European influence on all things British. In Paris, the fiercely patriotic French leader worried Britain would have a detrimental impact on French and European culture. 

De Gaulle might not have foreseen Nigel Farage, but his concerns over UK attitudes to Europe hinted at turbulent times ahead. 

After the third time of asking, on a cold and foggy New Year’s Day in 1973, the Union Flag was proudly raised over the EEC’s headquarters in Brussels and a torchlit procession through its streets marked the UK’s arrival as a fully-fledged member.

Many saw it as a time for celebration for a stagnant nation which had jealously eyed up the resurgence in West Germany’s post-war fortunes to become Europe’s economic powerhouse, and wanted a slice.

But it was far from a smooth entry.

When Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath arrived at the Egmont Palace in Brussels to sign the entry treaty a few months earlier, he was drenched in ink by an angry German woman. 

The earlier House of Commons debate over the UK’s entry had spanned six days of parliamentary discussion. Considered a marathon at the time, by today’s never-ending Brexit shenanigans it is little more than an idle chit-chat over the office water cooler. 

“There are some in this country who fear that going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. 

“These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified,” Prime Minister Edward Heath told the nation as the countdown to joining the EEC began.

He would not be the only Tory Prime Minister who would attempt – and fail miserably - to sweet talk his party colleagues into letting go of their Euro-angst.

The enabling bill that paved the way for the UK’s entry passed by the skin of its teeth, just eight votes separated those in favour from those against. Getting out again would, of course, see MPs on a seemingly endless ‘hokey cokey’ jaunt to the voting lobby accompanied by a bellowing John Bercow.

The Tory tantrums that would overshadow Europe were never far away. 

The most prominent Conservative critic of the EEC was ‘rivers of blood’ MP Enoch Powell, and by 1974 he began what would become almost a stampede among Tories to self-flagellate over Europe when he resigned from the party over the issue.

As an Ulster Unionist MP, Powell cast his vote for Harold Wilson in that year’s General Election

The Ulster Unionists, of course, would later play their own starring role in the UK’s in-out-shake-it-all-about European saga. 

Opposition leader Margaret Thatcher may have sported a colourful jumper featuring the flags of European nations as part of the 1975 ‘yes’ referendum campaign and 67% of voters may have agreed, but even at their closest, Europe and the UK always seemed more like  distant cousins than lovers. 
And there were plenty of reasons to eye Brussels with suspicion. 

The Seventies brought wine lakes and butter mountains. 

Grain piled high and milk sloshed around unwanted as agricultural policies meant to stabilise prices for farmers and consumers brought enormous excesses that would take years – and the introduction of countless quotas – to fix. 

Battle lines were drawn at sea over fishing areas and rules. 

Fish were wasted – caught and thrown overboard because they are the wrong species in the wrong nets – and the Common Fisheries Policy faced criticism of hastening the demise of fishing stocks. 

By the time the Maastricht Treaty was signed and formally set up the European Union in 1992, Tory Eurosceptics were in meltdown. 

John Major’s attempts to “put Britain at the heart of Europe” instead put an atomic bomb under his party. 

The subsequent fallout rumbled for 18 months and prompted the normally grey and reserved Prime Minister to refer to three rebel Cabinet Ministers as “bastards”.

It also took half a century of discussion before the Euro actually