A divided kingdom enters the Brexit unknown

After nearly five years of negotiations, countless talks, and three prime ministers, Brexit will take place at the strike of midnight in Brussels Friday (January 1) when the United Kingdom leaves de-facto membership that continued after it formally left the bloc last January.

The UK joined the European Union in 1973, as the "sick man of Europe."

In the 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 52%, backed Brexit while 16.1 million, 48%, backed staying in the bloc.

The referendum showed a United Kingdom divided, and what happens next is still largely unknown.

After the UK leaves the single market or the customs union, there is almost certain to be some disruption at borders.

More red tape means more cost for those importing and exporting goods across the EU-UK border.

Walking away from almost half a century of membership means changes to everything from pet passports and driving license rules to data restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament Wednesday (December 30) he hopes for a new relationship with the EU post divorce.

"And having taken back control of our money, our borders, our laws and our waters by leaving the European Union on January the 31st, we now seize this moment to forge a fantastic new relationship with our European neighbours based on free trade and friendly cooperation."

But not everyone is convinced.

There were strong words from French European Affairs minister Clement Beaune on Thursday, telling French television that Britain is quote, 'punishing itself', with Brexit.