Nigel Farage has been heckled and laughed at by members of the European Parliament in his first speech there since the EU referendum.
In a remarkable speech, Ukip’s leader insulted his fellow MEPs, claiming that “virtually none” of them had “proper jobs” and that the EU as a political projected was “in denial”.
Mr Farage went on to claim that the consequences of Europe refusing a good trade deal with the UK post-Brexit would “be far worse for you than it would be for us” – eliciting rapturous laughter from some MEPs.
“Isn’t it funny? When I came here 17 years ago and I said I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well, I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?” he began.
With the usually tame parliament in uproar and some MEPs turning their backs during Mr Farage’s speech, he accused the EU of bypassing democracy.
“The biggest problem you’ve got, and the main reason the United Kingdom voted the way it did, is because you have by stealth and deception, and without telling the truth to the rest of the peoples of Europe, imposed upon them a political union,” he said.
“When the people in 2005 in the Netherlands and France voted against that political union and rejected the constitution, you simply ignored them and brought the Lisbon Treaty in through the back door.
“What happened last Thursday was a remarkable result – it was a seismic result. Not just for British politics, for European politics, but perhaps even for global politics too.”
Responses to Mr Farage’s speech were cutting and intemperate. Jean Claude-Juncker, the president of the European Commission, asked Mr Farage why he was in the chamber.
“You lied. You fabricated reality. I regret this is the last time we will debate, because you won't be coming back,” he said.
Meanwhile, Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the parliament’s Liberal group, said there was a silver lining to Brexit.
“Let's look on the bright side. Finally, we're getting rid of the biggest waste of the EU budget: your salary,” he said, a reference to Mr Farage’s sparse attendance at the parliament.
At the end of the debate on Brexit, the European Parliament ultimately backed a motion for an “immediate” triggering of Article 50, putting it into conflict with David Cameron and Boris Johnson, who have called for a pause.
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