Richard E Grant has said that he “can’t quite believe” Brexit is due to go ahead on Friday.

The UK is preparing to leave the EU at 11pm on Friday with negotiations on the future relationship with Brussels expected to kick off shortly after.

The Oscar-nominated actor, who grew up in British Swaziland, said those living on the continent would remain “our neighbours”.

BrexitThe UK is due to leave the EU on Friday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Speaking at the Newport Beach Film Festival UK Honours gala in London, he told the PA news agency: “They are our neighbours. They are not going to stop being our neighbours and we are not going to stop trading with them or being friends with them.

“I can’t quite believe that it is happening.”

The 62-year-old, whose most recent starring role was General Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, attended the event to accept the icon award alongside Sir Ian Holm.

However, he said the accolade did not mark the end of his career.

“Nicholas Parsons has just died and he was 96 and still working,” he said.

Nicholas ParsonsNicholas Parsons died aged 96 (Anthony Devlin/PA)

“In showbusiness as long as you can get the gig, there is no retirement. I am very grateful for that and inspired by that.”

Veteran stage and screen actor Sir Ian, 88, who played Bilbo Baggins in the Lord Of The Rings film trilogy, made a rare public appearance to accept his icon award, accompanied by his daughter.

Grant said of him: “I have met him a few times but never worked with him.

“Ever since Alien in 1979 I have followed his career avidly and I knew even when I was growing up in Africa that he had this incredible provenance as this stage actor.

“I have followed everything he has done in movies since then.”