Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament and the leader of the U.K. Independence Party, spoke on the floor of the European Parliament on Tuesday morning.
It was a special session of the Parliament, called in the wake of the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union. Farage — whose eurosceptic right-wing party was firmly in favor of the Brexit, and who personally campaigned quite passionately for it — was grinning.
And on a day marked with fiery speeches, his stood out.
Here’s video, courtesy of The Guardian, plus a few of the more spectacular moments in the speech:
‘Funny, isn’t it?’
Farage was booed from the start — he could barely get out “Good morning.” The president of the European Parliament had to chastise the gathered lawmakers into letting Farage speak. When he finally began, here’s what he had to say.
“Funny, isn’t it?
“When I came here 17 years ago and I said that 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?”
‘You’re in denial’
Farage told the other members the source of their anger was clear:
“You as a political project are in denial. You’re in denial that your currency is failing. You’re in denial — well, just look at the Mediterranean! As a policy to impose poverty on Greece and the Mediterranean you’ve done very well.
“You’re in denial over 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 within countries and between countries.”
‘By stealth, by deception’
Farage invoked the controversial history of the EU Constitution. It failed to be ratified as its own treaty, but most of the elements of the proposed constitution were instituted through the Treaty of Lisbon.
“The biggest problem you’ve got and the main reason the U.K. voted the way it did is because you have — by stealth, by deception, without ever telling the truth to the rest of the peoples of Europe — you have imposed upon them a political union.
“And when the people in 2005 in the Netherlands and France voted against that political union and rejected the constitution, you simply ignored them and brought the Lisbon Treaty in through the back door.”
‘A seismic event’ … ‘Will not be the last’
Farage called the vote “a remarkable result”:
“What happened last Thursday was a remarkable result — it was, indeed, a seismic result. Not just for British politics, for European politics, but perhaps even for global politics, too.
“Because what the little people did, what the ordinary people did — what the people who’ve been oppressed over the last few years and seen their living standards go down — they rejected the multinationals, they rejected the merchant banks, they rejected big politics and they said, ‘Actually, we want our country back. We want our fishing waters back. We want our borders back.’ …
“In doing so, we now offer a beacon of hope to democrats across the rest of the European continent. I’ll make one prediction this morning: the United Kingdom will not be the last member state to leave the European Union.”
‘Virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives’
Here’s the line that brought the assembly — which had been occasionally grumbling during Farage’s speech, with a few smatterings of applause — into a rage.
“I know that virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives, or worked in business, or worked in trade, or indeed ever created a job. But listen, just listen.”
During the resulting uproar, the president of the EU Parliament, Martin Schulz, had to call for order. He chastised the MEPs by, well, insulting Farage’s own party:
“I do understand that you are getting emotional, but you are acting like UKIP usually acts in this chamber, so please, don’t imitate them,” he said.
He also told Farage to cut it out.
“You really can’t say that, I’m sorry,” Schulz said.
‘Cut off your noses to spite your faces’
Farage highlighted the trade relationships between the U.K. and Europe, and told an audibly amused Parliament that attempts to punish the U.K. for its departure would only hurt the 27 countries remaining in the EU.
“That trade matters. If you were to cut off your noses to spite your faces and to reject any idea of a sensible trade deal, the consequences would be far worse for you than it would be for us.”
[Laughter from MEPs]
“Even no deal is better for the United Kingdom is better than the current rotten deal that we’ve got. But if we were to move to a position where tariffs were reintroduced on products like motorcars then hundreds of thousands of German works would risk losing their jobs.”
‘Allow us to go off’
Here’s how he closed:
“Why don’t we just be pragmatic, sensible, grown-up, realistic — and let’s cut between us a sensible, tariff-free deal.
“And thereafter, recognize that the United Kingdom will be your friend, that we will trade with you, we will cooperate with you, we will be your best friends in the world.
“But do that, do it sensibly, and allow us to go off and pursue our global ambitions and future.”
Farage was met with some applause and a great deal of booing, and sat down with a visible smile.