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Britain's Nigel Farage to EU leaders: 'You're not laughing now, are you?'

Parliamentarians booed UKIP leader Nigel Farage as he spoke in Strasbourg, with the anti-EU politician claiming his critics were in denial.
Photo by Eric Vidal

An emergency special session for European Union lawmakers held in response to the UK's Brexit vote turned raucous Tuesday, with parliamentarians booing the leader of Britain's eurosceptic and anti-immigrant UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Speaking to the parliament members gathered in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asked UKIP lawmakers why they had attended a European Parliament session to discuss the consequences of the British vote to leave the bloc.


"We must respect British democracy and the way it has expressed its view," Juncker said in a speech to parliament, words that were greeted by rare applause from the UKIP members present.

"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 favor of the exit. Why are you here?" Juncker continued, breaking from his speech text.

Juncker spoke from a desk next to that of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, urging Britain to explain quickly what it wanted from the EU in terms of a new relationship while insisting he had told his staff not to engage in preliminary talks with British officials until London engages the two-year mechanism for leaving the EU.

Related: British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faces 'coup' after Brexit

During Farage's chance to speak he took the opportunity to tell the parliament members they were in denial, accusing them of never having "done a proper job" in their lives.

"When I came here 17 years ago and said 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?" he said.

"And the reason you're so upset, the reason you're so angry, has been perfectly clear from all the angry exchanges this morning. You, as a political project, are in denial. You are in denial that your currency is failing."


Lawmakers booed and yelled at the British politician as he spoke, before the parliament's president attempted to bring the session back to order. Martin Schulz, the German speaker of parliament, chided angry lawmakers and asked them to let Farage speak, accusing them of imitating tactics he said were normally used by UKIP.

Meanwhile outside of the EU, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday urged Britain to act to prevent incidents of xenophobic abuse in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union and to prosecute perpetrators.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement he was deeply concerned by reports of abuse targeting minority communities and foreigners in Britain.

Related: 'Leave' voters are willing to give up access to the EU market to stop immigration

"Racism and xenophobia are completely, totally and utterly unacceptable in any circumstances," Zeid said.

Islamic groups say there have been a sharp rise in incidents against Muslims since last Friday, many of which were directly linked to the decision for a British exit, or Brexit.

Immigration emerged as one of the key themes of the EU referendum campaign, with those who backed a British exit arguing that membership of the bloc had allowed uncontrolled numbers of migrants to come to Britain from eastern Europe.

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