Brexit Party stunt in Parliament denounced as ‘a total disgrace’

Written by Martin Banks on 2 July 2019 in News
News

MEPs from across the political divide have joined forces in condemning the Brexit party after their MEPs turned their backs at the European Parliament's opening session in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

Nigel Farage | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


Nigel Farage and his Brexit party MEPs turned their backs during the playing of the European anthem at a ceremony to mark the opening plenary since the European elections in May.

The move caused fury among other MEPs including Ska Keller, co leader of the Greens/EFA group in Parliament, who branded Farage and his MEPs a “total disgrace.”

Speaking at a news briefing in Parliament on Tuesday, Keller said, “These people stood for election to Parliament and to represent their citizens. And yet the first thing they do when they get here is to totally disrespect the values of this Parliament and all it stands for. No one forced them to become MEPs - they did so out of choice.”


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“As far as I am concerned they are a total disgrace.”

Another German MEP, who did not wish to be named, told this website, “This so-called protest was very immature and childish. I cannot think it impressed anyone.”

A saxophone quartet and opera singer performed Beethoven’s Ode to Joy but the 29 Brexit party MEPs turned away from the group in the packed chamber on Tuesday morning.

Parliament’s outgoing President Antonio Tajani also condemned those MEPs who did not immediately get to their feet, telling them, “it is a question of respect. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily share the views of the EU. If you listen to the anthem of another country you rise to your feet.”

“To turn your back on this is more than rude, it is insulting to fellow human beings. The Brexit Party people make me feel ashamed to be British” Chris Davies MEP

Labour’s leader in the European Parliament, veteran MEP Richard Corbett, branded the move as “pathetic.”

Farage, who has been an MEP since 1999, said Brexit party MEPs would stay beyond 31 October “if we have to stay longer”.

He recently faced a parliamentary conduct committee hearing about his expenses.

UK member Chris Davies, who was re-elected for the Liberal Democrats after losing his seat in 2014, told this site, “I think to many Ode to Joy brings to mind a Europe that has been torn apart by conflict and bloodshed now brought together to try and find shared solutions to common problems.”

“To turn your back on this is more than rude, it is insulting to fellow human beings.  The Brexit Party people make me feel ashamed to be British.”

“These people stood for election to Parliament and to represent their citizens. And yet the first thing they do when they get here is to totally disrespect the values of this Parliament and all it stands for” Ska Keller MEP

MEPs, meanwhile, are due to vote on the next President of Parliament on Wednesday morning, the highlight of this week’s plenary.

Davies, when asked about the possible contenders, said, “It goes without question that I want to support Guy Verhofstadt, but I doubt if I will be given the option to do so. It is all about deals within wheels, or something like that.”

Corbett said he was still supporting Frans Timmermans, a vice president of the Commission, whose stock has risen in the past few days following opposition to the EPP candidate, Manfred Weber, a German MEP.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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