28 Jun 2016

Nigel Farage booed and heckled by MEPs

I’m in Brussels, back in the city where David Cameron told EU leaders last December not to worry about the referendum because “I’m a winner”.

 

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The meeting of EU leaders kicks off later today. This morning as a curtain raiser the European Parliament had an emergency debate on Brexit.

In the first hours after the Brexit vote it was Nigel Farage who was Britain’s face to the world. Other more establishment politicians who’d devised the vote or led Leave forces seemed to struggle to find a message to fill the void.

Today, at the European Parliament, Nigel Farage was again defining post-Brexit Britain to the world.

He spoke after the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who greeted him affectionately before, in his speech, wondering aloud what he was still doing there?

The Ukip leader was there, he could’ve guessed, to gloat.

Nigel Farage was booed and heckled by MEPs, not least when he mocked the Euro currency at a time when the pound has known better days.

He insulted them all as strangers to the real world, ideologues in denial and people who’d never held down a proper job.

Then Mr Farage said they should behave like grown-ups and cut a sensible tariff-free deal with the UK.

It wasn’t what you’d call a charm offensive.

And for good measure he was followed by an energised Marine Le Pen. The leader of the Front National praised the British people for telling the EU “where to get off”. She rejoiced at the British referendum result which she wants to replicate in France.

The Front National has been on a programme of decontaminating its hard-right image for some time. Skinheads with Nazi insignia are forbidden from meetings. But Nigel Farage refused to ally with them in the European Parliament because he thought racism was in their DNA.

Marine Le Pen is in opposition (for now) but some heads of government in the EU are also excited by the possibilities thrown up by the British referendum result.

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