Nigel Farage says EU reform package 'hardly worth the wait'

UKIP leader calls David Cameron's strategy to secure further concessions 'humiliating' and 'pathetic'.

By Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is Managing Editor of The Parliament Magazine

03 Feb 2016

Nigel Farage has said that British Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to reform the EU has failed to deliver any "fundamental change" in the UK's relationship with the Union.

Following the unveiling of European Council President Donald Tusk's response to Cameron's demands for renegotiating Britain's EU membership on Tuesday, Farage responded by saying; "It wasn't supposed to be like this, was it?"

Farage told MEPs that the British Prime Minister's renegotiation began with "big intentions", including treaty change and control over EU migrants' entry into the UK.


"He was going to achieve fundamental change not just in Britain's relationship with the European Union, but reform of the EU itself," said the UKIP leader. "However, what we got was a letter from Mr Tusk in which there is no treaty change, no powers returned to the UK and no control over our borders at all. In fact it was hardly worth the wait. It's really rather pathetic."

Cameron is understood to be keen to reach a settlement on Tusk's offer at the upcoming summit of EU leaders in Brussels on 18-19 February. The Prime Minister is said to believe that an agreement at that meeting, with the addition of a few eye-catching extra concessions thrown in, will pave the way for a successful outcome in an in-out referendum in June.

However, Farage dismissed Cameron's cap-in-hand negotiating approach as "humiliating".

"There is, of course, one more chance for the prime minister. When he goes to the European summit in a couple of weeks' time, like Oliver Twist he will parade in front of the other leaders and say, "please can we have some more concessions?"

"I find it rather humiliating that a British Prime Minister has to do this".

Farage said the substance of Tusk's offer highlighted the failure of Cameron's strategy. "We have an emergency brake on migrant benefits. Wow, it was supposed to be a total ban on migrant benefits for up to four years. It's less an emergency brake, more a handbrake turn."

He also dismissed the Prime Minister's talking up of the inclusion of a so-called 'red card' procedure allowing national governments - via a convoluted and strict process - to veto excessive EU rules. Farage wondered whether, "that really a cause for celebration? I mean if 15 parliaments couldn't stop a piece of law then we'd be living in a communist dictatorship."

Following the debate, Farage told reporters that those opposing the EU must forget their political differences and unite in time to campaign in the upcoming referendum.

"We've got to have a proper cross-party campaign…it's not about left-wing or right-wing, it's not about political parties, it's about a key issue. From my perspective it is the most important vote we will have in our lifetime."