Nigel Farage mocked for Brexit U-turn after saying he would rather accept delay than new deal

Brexit Party leader hits out at Jean-Claude Juncker after European Commission president appears to rule out further extension

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Thursday 17 October 2019 15:33
Comments
Juncker shouts at reporter and rules out 'prolongation'

Nigel Farage has been mocked after defending a law that would delay Brexit, despite having spent months insisting that the UK must leave the EU on time.

The Brexit Party leader hit out at Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, after he suggested there should be no further delay to the UK's EU withdrawal.

Mr Juncker told reporters at a European Council summit in Brussels that there "will be no prolongation" after the EU and UK agreed a deal just hours before European leaders are due to meet.

Mr Farage, who has always opposed any delay to Brexit, prompted confusion after accusing Mr Juncker of "overrriding" a law that says Mr Johnson must seek a further extension if no deal is agreed by parliament by 19 October.

He tweeted: "So an unelected, retiring bureaucrat says: no extension, take this new treaty or just leave. He is overriding the Benn Act. The EU shows itself to be a thuggocracy - power without accountability. Appalling people."

The comment prompted widespread mockery, with Twitter users pointing out that Mr Farage had opposed the provisions of the Benn Act and for months demanded that the UK leave the EU on 31 October.

Independent MP Nick Boles, a former Conservative, wrote: "Now I’m confused. I thought Nigel Farage wanted to 'just leave' on 31 October which is what the Benn Act was designed to prevent."

Tory MP Ben Bradley, a vocal Eurosceptic, said: "He's totally lost the plot? Farage arguing for Benn Act and demanding an extension?! Can't think of many Brexit backers who will agree with that position. Why does he think UK law should apply outside of the UK?"

He added that Mr Farage "wants us to stay in so he's still relevant".

The Benn Act, which was passed by MPs last month, has repeatedly been referred to by Brexiteers as "the Surrender Act".

Mr Johnson had been desperate to avoid having to ask for an extension and hailed his last-minute agreement as a "great new deal that takes back control".

But Mr Farage said he would prefer a delay to Brexit followed by a general election to leaving on the terms of Mr Johnson's deal.

He said: "Well it's not just Brexit, I mean we've taken three and a half years to get to this point and if this was to be agreed we then enter into 'here's more negotiations for the prize of a free trade agreement', which we already know we will not get unless we surrender our territorial fishing waters and we will not get unless we stay in regulatory alignment with the European Union.

"I would very much like us to leave on the 31 October but I understand that the Benn Act has been passed and that makes it impossible but would I rather accept a new European treaty that is frankly very bad for us or would I prefer to have an extension and a general election? I would always go for the latter option."

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