Nigel Farage has been heckled in the European Parliament after telling its members they were “in denial”, and predicting Britain would not be the last country to leave the EU.
He said Britain’s vote to leave the EU had been “remarkable” and “seismic”, “not just for British politics, for European politics, but perhaps for global politics too”.
“What the little people did, what the ordinary people did, what the people who have been oppressed over the last few years and seen their living standards go down … they rejected big politics, and they said ‘actually, we want our country back’.
“I make one prediction this morning: The United Kingdom will not be the last member state to leave the European Union.
The UK Independence Party leader, who was a key supporter of the Leave campaign, was booed as he told Parliament: “I know virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives or worked, worked in a business or worked in a trade.”
Earlier, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker asked the UKIP leader why he had attended the session.
The UKIP representatives had applauded after Mr Juncker had told Parliament: “We must respect British democracy and the way it has expressed its view.”
“That’s the last time you are applauding here … and to some extent I’m really surprised you are here. You are fighting for the exit. The British people voted in favour of the exit. Why are you here?” Juncker said, breaking from his speech text.
Juncker said he would make no apology for being “sad” at the result of the British vote. “I am not a robot,” he said, “I am not a grey bureaucrat.”
He urged Britain to explain quickly what it wanted from the EU in terms of a new relationship but insisted he had told his staff to engage in no preliminary talks with British officials until London engages the two-year mechanism for leaving the EU.
Britain will not dictate terms of EU relationship: Merkel
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain the union would not tolerate “cherry-picking” in upcoming negotiations on their future relations.
“The EU is strong enough to withstand Britain’s withdrawal,” she told Parliament ahead of a crisis summit of the 28 member states in Brussels.
“It is also strong enough to successfully defend its interests in the world in future.”
She expressed her regret that Britain had voted in a referendum last week to quit the bloc, but underlined that it would not be able to dictate the terms of its ties to the EU.
“We will ensure there are no negotiations based on the principle of cherry-picking,” she said to applause.
“There must be and will be a noticeable difference between whether a country wants to be a member of the European Union family or not.
“Anyone wishing to leave this family cannot expect to lose all the obligations but keep the privileges.”
Ms Merkel also said access to Europe’s common market depends on “accepting Europe’s fundamental freedoms and the other rules and commitments that go with it”.
“This applies to Britain as it does to everyone else,” she said.
A non-EU country can join the common market if its accepts the freedoms of people, goods, services and capital, she added, mentioning the example of Norway.