Today in the annual ‘State of the Union’ debate in the Strasbourg parliament chamber UKIP’s Nigel Farage MEP labelled Guy Verhofstadt’s appointment as chief Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament “pretty much an act of war on any sensible negotiating process.”
Nigel Farage commented in the debate: "If you think of this building as a temple, well Mr Verhofstadt is the high priest. A fanatic, in fact there is only one real nationalist in the room and it’s you because you want flags, anthems and armies.
"I would argue what we really need is to have a sensible, common sense approach and for this parliament to recognise it has made a mistake and to find somebody who actually likes the United Kingdom to lead these talks."
Watch the speech in full below:
Read the speech in full below:
This annual tradition of this State of the Union speech was of course started by your predecessor, Mr Barroso and perhaps now is a good opportunity, I’m sure the whole house, would like to join me in congratulating Mr Barroso on his new, highly paid job at Goldman Sachs. Isn’t all wonderful? Because whatever happens to you Mr Juncker, the big boys I’m sure will look after you.
Having listened to what you said this morning all I can say is that I’m pleased we voted to leave. It is clear that there are no lessons that are going to be learned from Brexit, indeed it was the usual recipe; more Europe, and in this particular case more military Europe.
A European army and common defence and already in this house people are saying ‘well the Americans won’t be here anymore, we’ll have to stand alone with our own military structures.’ I don’t know about a project of peace I would have thought this is probably a very dangerous move. It isn’t going to change the rapid growth of opposition parties across the whole of Europe, it isn’t going to stop the Central and Eastern European countries from saying no to Mrs Merkel’s migrant quotas and I think you’ve got a lot more referendums to look forward to.
But in terms of Brexit, well you’re probably right to be slightly critical of the British government who I agree ought to get on with it. But it is pretty clear that the EU is getting on with it and you have already appointed your divorce lawyers and on behalf of the European Parliament we’ve got Guy Verhofstadt. He’s the man who is going to be negotiating Brexit and if you think of this building as a temple, well Mr Verhofstadt is the high priest. A fanatic, in fact there is only one real nationalist in the room and it’s you because you want flags, anthems, armies. You are an EU nationalist and I frankly think that this appointment amounts to pretty much a declaration of war on any sensible negotiating process. If you stick to the dogma of saying reciprocal tariff free access to the Single Market we must maintain free movement of people then you will inevitably drive us towards no deal. No deal and trading on WTO rules, for the United Kingdom that actually isn’t too bad because it’s very much better and cheaper than the current deal we’ve got.
But for hundreds of thousands of German car workers and French wine producers potentially it is very bad news because we are their biggest market who they trade with most profitably in the world and I would argue what we really need is to have a sensible, common sense approach and for this parliament to recognise it has made a mistake and to find somebody who actually likes the United Kingdom to lead these talks.