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'You're not laughing now' - Farage goads European Parliament

Published 28/06/2016

Nigel Farage told fellow MEPs "you're not laughing now" as he was barracked and booed at an emergency meeting of the European Parliament to discuss Brexit.

The Ukip leader accused them of being "in denial" about the euro crisis, immigration and the imposition "by stealth, by deception, without ever telling the truth" of a political union.

Offering a tongue in cheek "thank you for the warm welcome", he told them: "When I came here 17 years ago and 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?"

As the session was disrupted by constant shouts of dissent, Parliament president Martin Schulz was forced to intervene, warning members that "o ne major quality of democracy is that you listen to those even if you don't share their opinion".

At a highly charged session in the Brussels chamber, Mr Farage declared: "The reason you are so upset, the reason you are so angry, has been perfectly clear from all the angry exchanges this morning: you are in denial.

"You are in denial that your currency is failing," he said.

Facing down more boos, he said: "As a policy to impose poverty on Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean, you have done very well.

"You are in denial over (German chancellor) Mrs Merkel's call last year for as many people as possible to cross the Mediterranean into the European Union, which has led to massive divisions between countries and within countries.

"But the biggest problem you have got, and the main reason the United Kingdom voted the way it did, is that you have, by stealth, by deception, without ever telling the truth to the British or the rest of the peoples of Europe, you have imposed upon them a political union."

Earlier Mr Farage sparred with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who questioned why he had attended.

"That's the last time you are applauding here," Mr Juncker said after the fiercely anti-EU politician applauded his opening statement that Europe "must respect British democracy and the way it has expressed its view".

"To some extent I am really surprised that you are here," he told him.

"You were fighting for the exit, the British people voted in favour of the exit. Why are you here?"

Mr Farage told him it was a "pleasure".

The pair were seen to share an embrace, with the famously tactile Mr Juncker appearing to kiss the politician on the ear.

Mr Farage prompted particular fury when he demanded a "grown up and sensible attitude to how we negotiate a different relationship", and declared: "Most of you have never done a proper job in your lives."

He was told the comment was not acceptable by Mr Schulz, who lambasted the heckling MPs for "acting like Ukip".

"I understand you are getting emotional, but you are acting like Ukip normally acts in this chamber so please don't imitate them," he ordered.

Mr Farage retorted: "Ukip used to protest against the establishment and now the establishment protests against Ukip so something has happened here."

He said the vote to leave offered a "beacon of hope to democrats" across the continent and predicted the UK "will not be the last member state to leave".

If the EU failed to conclude a "sensible tariff-free" trade deal with the UK, "the circumstances would be far worse for you that it would be for us", he added.

The Ukip leader found himself in agreement with EU chiefs on one front, arguing that the UK Government "should not spend too long" pondering how to withdraw.

Mr Farage condemned the rise in abuse which had followed the Brexit vote, but said there had been incidents of "appalling behaviour" from both sides.

"The abuse since that Brexit result is going both ways because there are people who voted Leave who have been called horrible things. We are in a country of heightened tension," he told Channel 4 News.

Put to him that police were saying that recorded incidents of racist abuse had gone up dramatically he said: " Perhaps they have, perhaps they haven't. I don't know."

He urged people to "behave yourselves" and added: "We will go on being a country that is open and welcoming, the difference is having voted for Brexit, we can now control the numbers."

Mr Farage said he would continue to sit in the European Parliament to represent Brexit voters: "We won the war in winning this referendum, we now have to win the peace."

He warned whoever takes over as prime minister not to " backslide" on commitments to curb immigration.

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