Tensions between the European Union and Britain, as well as within the country itself, spilled over to Brussels on Tuesday, as Nigel Farage, the leader of the right-wing populist U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), told assembled members of the European Parliament that the E.U. was “in denial” about its failure and the fact that it was falling apart.
“When I came here 17 years ago and said I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the Europeans Union, you all laughed at me,” Farage said in a speech which was carried live by TV channels in Britain and across Europe.
“Well, you’re not laughing now, are you?” Farage said. He continued to predict that the U.K. would not be the last nation to leave the European Union.
The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, had to calm jeering parliamentarians after Farage told them: “Most of you have never done a proper job in your lives.”
Schulz accused MPs of “acting like UKIP,” but also criticized Farage for his lack of respect.
Farage’s provocations did not go unanswered.
“I am surprised that you are here,” Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, told Farage in parliament. “You were fighting for the exit. The British people have voted in favor of the exit. Why are you here?” European MPs reacted with applause and cheers to Juncker’s speech.
The parliament members also supported a Scottish colleague with standing ovations. “While I’m proudly Scottish, I’m also proudly European,” said Alyn Smith, a European MP from the Scottish National Party (SNP).
“Scotland did not let you down,” Smith said, addressing European politicians. “Please, I beg you, do not let Scotland down now,” he said with raised voice, amid an applauding crowd.