Nigel Farage attacked by furious MEPs

  • Former Belgium PM and current Liberal leader in European Parliament launches astonishing tirade against Nigel Farage 
  • Guy Verhofstadt attacks Farage over controversial poster showing refugees flooding to Europe
  • He accuses Brexit campaign of lying over immigration, Turkey and NHS

Matt Dathan, Political Correspondent For Mailonline

Nigel Farage was attacked by furious European politicians today and was accused of winning the EU referendum by using ‘lies’ and ‘Nazi propoganda’.   

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgium prime minister and now an MEP, compared Ukip’s controversial poster showing a line of Syrian refugees along the Slovenian border to a Nazi campaign poster. 

He also joked that Brussels would be saving money thanks to Brexit, telling MEPs: ‘Finally we will be getting rid of the biggest waste in the EU budget – that we have paid for 17 years of your salary.’

It came during an extraordinary day in the normally dull European Parliament, where Mr Farage was booed and heckled as he gloated about Britain’s historic vote to leave the EU last week. 

The Ukip leader told fellow MEPs ‘you’re not laughing now’ and accused the EU of being ‘a political project in denial’.  

Guy Verhofstadt, pictured standing up, the former Belgium prime minister and now an MEP, compared Ukip's controversial poster showing a line of Syrian refugees along the Slovenian border to a Nazi campaign poster as he delivered a bitter attack on Nigel Farage, sat second from right in front of a Union flag, which was ironically upside down. The Ukip leader sat next to EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, right

Guy Verhofstadt, pictured standing up, the former Belgium prime minister and now an MEP, compared Ukip’s controversial poster showing a line of Syrian refugees along the Slovenian border to a Nazi campaign poster as he delivered a bitter attack on Nigel Farage, sat second from right in front of a Union flag, which was ironically upside down. The Ukip leader sat next to EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, right

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament, launched a bitter attack on Mr Farage over his poster (pictured)  that told voters: 'The EU has failed us all' alongside a line of predominantly male Syrian refugees on the Slovenian border last October

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament, launched a bitter attack on Mr Farage over his poster (pictured) that told voters: ‘The EU has failed us all’ alongside a line of predominantly male Syrian refugees on the Slovenian border last October

As he stood up to speak to a hostile reception in the European Parliament building this morning, he joked: ‘Thank you for the warm welcome’ before telling them they were also ‘in denial’ about the euro crisis and immigration.

But minutes later Mr Verhofstadt launched a bitter attack on Mr Farage over his poster – launched in the final days before the EU referendum – that told voters: ‘The EU has failed us all’ alongside a line of predominantly male Syrian refugees on the Slovenian border last October. 

It added below: ‘We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders.’

The poster, which caused widespread condemnation from both the Remain and Leave campaigns, drew comparisons to an original poster shown in a BBC documentary showing refugees fleeing Nazi Germany with the words: ‘parasites undermining their host countries’.

Mr Verhofstadt, who now heads up the Liberals and Democrats for Europe group of MEPs in the Brussels Parliament, claimed the Brexit campaign had only succeeded because it was based on negativity and ‘lies’ on immigration.

BRITAIN MUST TRIGGER ARTICLE 50 IMMEDIATELY, SAYS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Britain must trigger the formal process of withdrawing from the EU immediately, a resolution by the European Parliament demanded this morning. 

MEPs voted on their preferred timing of Britain triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out the procedure for a member state cutting ties with Brussels. 

The ‘will expressed by the people needs to be entirely and fully respected, starting with an immediate activation of Article 50,’ a resolution approved by MEPs at an emergency session said this morning. 

It was voted by 395 in favour to 200 against, with 71 abstensions.

But it is up to the British government to invoke the so-called Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that starts the clock on two years to negotiate the terms of the exit. 

The negotiation will have to negotiate a new set of arrangements in areas such as trade, justice and reciprocal visas.

The UK can leave earlier than that if terms are easily found.

But if there is no deal by the end of the time we will be outside without any special provisions – meaning much higher trade tariffs. 

Instead we could try to force the EU to strike a deal without imposing a time limit – but that may depend on whether other states are willing to play ball.

European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has already warned that ‘deserters’ will not be treated kindly.

But leaders will have to navigate the whole process as they go because quitting the EU is an unprecedented move.

Only semi-independent Greenland has quit the EU before, and that was 30 years ago when the island had a population of just 56,000.

It can be argued that Algeria left too – when it stopped being part of France in the 1960s. 

But having been a member for 43 years, the process of untangling Britain from the complex network of institutions in Brussels is likely to take the maximum two years.

If a new deal fails to be agreed in the time period, Britain’s trading relationship with the EU will revert to World Trade Organisation terms – seen as the most basic and the ones used for Russia’s trading relationship with Brussels. 

He told Mr Farage: ‘It’s my feeling that it’s not so much the choice they have made that is hard … what makes it so hard is the way it succeeded.

‘The absolutely negative campaign, the posters of Mr Farage showing refugees like in Nazi propaganda.

‘I was never told that it was possible that somebody in this house should do a thing like that.

‘The lies also on migration. The lies on ‘oh Turkey will join the union next week’. Or the lies on the £350m that should return immediately to the National Health Service. And now don’t go back to the National Health Service.

‘It’s that climate of fear that has been created, of negativism that has been created – that is the most shocking thing that has happened in Britain – not the choice of the people, because the choice of the people is democracy.’   

Mr Farage provoked jeers from opposing MEPs as he tore into them in his short but punchy speech. 

He appealed for a ‘grownup and sensible attitude to how we negotiate a different relationship’ but added: ‘I know that virtually none of you have never done a proper job in your lives, or worked in business, or worked in trade, or indeed ever created a job. But listen, just listen. 

As MEPs broke out in uproar, European president Martin Schulz was forced to step in to appeal for calm. 

He condemned Mr Farage for antagonising his long-standing opponents but told the heckling MEP to stop ‘behaving like Ukip’.    

Before the hostilities began the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker embraced Mr Farge, but the Ukip leader looked uncomfortable as the European Commission president went in for a kiss.

But it soon became fractious as lawmakers applauded the EU chief during the session of crisis talks about the future of the EU following Britain’s decision to exit last week, with the animated European Commission chief interrupting his address to hit out at Mr Farage.

Breaking off from his speech – delivered in French – Mr Juncker switched to English as he told Mr Farage: ‘That’s the last time you are applauding here…and to some extent I’m really surprised you are here. 

‘You are fighting for the exit. The British people voted in favour of the exit. Why are you here?’ he asked.  

The embattled Mr Juncker has been heavily criticised throughout Europe for his part in Britain’s decision to cut ties with Brussels but used his address to a special session of the European Parliament to fight back. 

Hitting back at calls for him to resign, he told MEPs he was going nowhere and pledged to continue fighting towards his goal of a federal Europe. 

In a rare personal note, the 61-year-old former Luxembourg prime minister struck out at critics, notably in the German press but also among east European governments, who have called on him to stand down following the Brexit vote.

Nigel Farage (right) sits next to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) in a special session of the European Parliament today where leading European politicians discussed last week's historic decision by British voters to quit the EU 

Nigel Farage (right) sits next to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) in a special session of the European Parliament today where leading European politicians discussed last week’s historic decision by British voters to quit the EU 

Nigel Farage's union flag was upside down (pictured) as he gloated about Britain's decision to leave the EU in the European Parliament today 

Nigel Farage’s union flag was upside down (pictured) as he gloated about Britain’s decision to leave the EU in the European Parliament today 

Nigel Farage (right) sits next to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) in a special session of the European Parliament today where leading European politicians discussed last week's historic decision by British voters to quit the EU 

Nigel Farage (right) sits next to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (left) in a special session of the European Parliament today where leading European politicians discussed last week’s historic decision by British voters to quit the EU 

‘I am neither tired or sick, as the German papers say,’ he said. ‘I will fight to my last breath for a united Europe.’  

But he admitted the EU must accept the result of Britain’s referendum.  

‘We must respect British democracy and the way it has expressed its view,’ Mr Juncker said, drawing applause from the Ukip MEPs present. 

Mr Juncker spoke from a desk next to that of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who followed the largely French and German speech with headphones and with a British flag planted in front of him. 

Mr Juncker said he would make no apology for being ‘sad’ at the result of the British vote – ‘I am not a robot,’ he said, ‘I am not a grey bureaucrat.’

He urged Britain to explain quickly what it wanted from the EU in terms of a new relationship but insisted he had told his staff to engage in no preliminary talks with British officials until London engages the two-year mechanism for leaving the EU.

‘No notification, no negotiation,’ he said.  

Nigel Farage (pictured with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in the European Parliament today) told fellow MEPs 'you're not laughing now' and accused the EU of being 'a political project in denial'

Nigel Farage (pictured with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in the European Parliament today) told fellow MEPs ‘you’re not laughing now’ and accused the EU of being ‘a political project in denial’

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker
Ukip leader Nigel Farage

Earlier in the session Nigel Farage (pictured right) clashed with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (left), who asked the Ukip leader: ‘Why are you here?’

Jean-Claude Juncker spoke from a desk next to that of UKIP leader Nigel Farage (right), who followed the largely French and German speech with headphones and with a British flag planted in front of him

Jean-Claude Juncker spoke from a desk next to that of UKIP leader Nigel Farage (right), who followed the largely French and German speech with headphones and with a British flag planted in front of him

‘You’re not laughing now, are you!’ Nigel Farage taunts fellow MEPs after finally realising his dream of leaving the EU 

Read Nigel Farage’s full speech to the European Parliament:  

Isn’t it funny? When I came here 17 years ago and I said that 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? The reason you’re so upset, you’re so angry, has been perfectly clear, from all the angry exchanges this morning.

You as a political project are in denial. You’re in denial that your currency is failing. Just look at the Mediterranean! As a policy to impose poverty on Greece and the Mediterranean you’ve done very well.

You’re in denial over Mrs. Merkel’s call for as many people as possible to cross the Mediterranean – which has led to massive divisions between within countries and between countries.

The biggest problem you’ve got and the main reason the UK 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, you have imposed upon them a political union. 

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.

Nigel Farage was booed and heckled by EU lawmakers in Brussels this morning as he gloated about Britain's historic vote to leave the EU last week

Nigel Farage was booed and heckled by EU lawmakers in Brussels this morning as he gloated about Britain’s historic vote to leave the EU last week

As he stood up to speak to a hostile reception in the European Parliament building this morning, he joked: 'Thank you for the warm welcome' before telling them they were also 'in denial' about the euro crisis and immigration.

As he stood up to speak to a hostile reception in the European Parliament building this morning, he joked: ‘Thank you for the warm welcome’ before telling them they were also ‘in denial’ about the euro crisis and immigration.

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. 

Because what the little people did, what the ordinary people did – what the people who’d been oppressed over the last few years who’d seen their living standards go down did – was they rejected the multinationals, they rejected the merchant banks, they rejected big politics and they said actually, we want our country back, we want our fishing waters back, we want our borders back.

We want to be an independent, self-governing, normal nation. That is what we have done and that is what must happen. In doing so we now offer a beacon of hope to democrats across the rest of the European continent. I’ll make one prediction this morning: the United Kingdom will not be the last member state to leave the European Union.

The question is what do we do next? It is up to the British government to invoke article 50 and I don’t think we should spend too long in doing it. I totally agree that the British people have voted, we need to make sure that it happens.

What I’d like to see is a grownup and sensible attitude to how we negotiate a different relationship. I know that virtually none of you have never done a proper job in your lives, or worked in business, or worked in trade, or indeed ever created a job. But listen, just listen.

Nigel Farage was mobbed by Europe's media after giving a gloating speech to the European Parliament today

Nigel Farage was mobbed by Europe’s media after giving a gloating speech to the European Parliament today

You’re quite right Mr Schultz – Ukip used to protest against the establishment and now the establishment protests against Ukip. Something has happened here. Let us listen to some simple pragmatic economics – my country and your country, between us we do an enormous amount of business in goods and services. 

That trade is mutually beneficial to both of us, that trade matters. If you were to cut off your noses to spite your faces and reject any idea of a sensible trade deal the consequences would be far worse for you than it would be for us. 

Even no deal is better for the United Kingdom is better than the current rotten deal that we’ve got. But if we were to move to a position where tariffs were reintroduced on products like motorcars then hundreds of thousands of German works would risk losing their jobs.

Why don’t we be grown up, pragmatic, sensible, realistic and let’s cut between us a sensible tariff-free deal and thereafter recognise that the United Kingdom will be your friend, that we will trade with you, cooperate with you, we will be your best friends in the world. 

Do that, do it sensibly, and allow us to go off and pursue our global ambitions and future.

  

 

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