Ukip MEPs sparked a protest that sent the European Parliament into chaos today after a crucial vote and debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was suspended.
Nigel Farage marched to the front of the room after MEPs narrowly voted in favour of a a last-minute delay in the latest debate on the free trade agreement with the United States. The Ukip leader claimed this was proof the EU was "running scared" of the strength of opposition to TTIP.
Meanwhile fellow MEPs from other parties who are also opposed to TTIP joined Ukip in standing, shouting, booing and clapping to show their dissatisfaction with proceedings. MEPs were due to set out their first formal position on TTIP since negotiations started two years ago.
Stephen Woolfe, Ukip's immigration and financial affair's spokesman, initiated the protest by reading out rules of procedure stating that if 40 MEPs stood up, they could halt the whole plenary session.
Many more than 40 stood up but the protest was rejected because the session had already closed.
TTIP, aimed at creating the world's biggest free trade zone between the United States and Europe, is opposed by parties on the right and left of the political spectrum.
Ukip gaffes and controversies
Ukip gaffes and controversies
1/18 European elections poster
Party's latest EU election posters branded 'racist' and compared to BNP campaigns
2/18 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Ukip spin doctor forced to intervene as Farage falters in disastrous radio interview
3/18 Neil Hamilton
Picture Exclusive: The year is 1998. The venue is a Springbok Club meeting. The flag is a symbol for white supremacists in South Africa. And the speaker is Ukip’s deputy chairman, Neil Hamilton
4/18 Kerry Smith
Kerry Smith resigned as would-be MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock after it emerged he had mocked gay party members as “disgusting poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone with a Chinese name as a “Chinky bird”
5/18 Natasha Bolter
Former Ukip member Natasha Bolter was suspected of not having the teaching qualifications she professed to, only days after it was revealed that claims of her having attended Oxford University were also false
6/18 Ukip Calypso song
Mike Reid released a single in praise of UKIP trying to control the UK's borders, only to withdraw the single after being accused of racism for singing in a Jamaican accent
7/18 Janice Atkinson
Janice Atkinson, Ukip's South East chair, pictured by protesters while campaigning in Ashford, Kent with local party chair Norman Taylor
8/18 Ukip cancels Freephone
Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
9/18 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Mr Farage appeared to be caught out on a number of issues, from Romanian neighbours to people speaking foreign languages on the train
10/18 Ukip employs illegal immigrants
Ukip criticised after European election candidate found employing illegal immigrants
11/18 Magnus Nielsen
Ukip candidate: 'Take away the right to vote to improve election turnout'
12/18 Poster model
A “British builder” portrayed in a Ukip poster accusing EU workers of taking UK jobs turns out to be an Irish actor - aka a migrant worker
13/18 'Arrest protesters'
Ukip called for police to arrest protesters ‘who call us fascists’ ahead of showdown with anti-fascist groups in Brighton
14/18 London Live make-up
Ukip's Nigel Farage reportedly refused to go on London Live 'without professional make up-artist'
15/18 Andre Lampitt
Ukip forced to suspend the "poster boy" of its European election broadcast, after it was revealed he had posted a series of vile racist comments on Twitter
Nigel Farage says he is taking taking legal advice over “outrageous” allegations that he is responsible for more than £50,000 of “missing” EU funding that was paid directly into his personal bank account
17/18 Have I Got News For You
Nigel Farage appears in Have I Got News For You, spends the entire episode being ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
18/18 Anti-gay comments
Local branch chairman for Ukip defends a party's councillor candidate Douglas Denny who called gay people “abnormal” and said he wished “they stop trying to ram it down my throat”, all while discussing whether the word “sodomite” should be used
Some argue it risks undermining EU regulations, green opponents protest against the environmental affects of increased global trade, while others claim the real beneficiaries of TTIP were not consumers but large corporations. Ukip has also claimed it would lead to more privatisation in the NHS.
However the European Commission claims it will boost the size of the EU economy by around £94 billion and the US economy by £60 billion.
The European Parliament is not involved in the formal TTIP negotiations but it will be given a final veto over the final text.
Green party MEP Keith Taylor said: "The decision to postpone the votes and debate on TTIP stinks of political parties in the European Parliament running scared of the huge public opposition to TTIP.
"TTIP represents a monumental power grab by corporations and it must be stopped in its tracks."Reuse content