- Juncker urges Britain for quick exit of the union
- Farage tells MEPs they have never held a real job in their life
- Scottish MEP receives standing ovation after asking EU not to let them down
- Merkel warns the UK there will be no “cherry-picking” during negotiations
In an emotionally charged European Parliament (EP) Extraordinary Plenary Session, MEPs responded to Britain’s vote to leave the EU and called on Britain to act quickly.
“The UK must respect the wish of a majority of its citizens, entirely, fully and as soon as possible, by officially withdrawing from the EU before any new relationship arrangements can be made,” the EP said in a resolution voted after the session.
During the session, MEPs also stressed the urgent need for reforms to ensure that the EU lives up to its citizens’ expectations.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the EU Commission told the Parliament that Britain had to leave the bloc as soon as possible, while stressing he understood the article 50 could not be triggered “tomorrow or Thursday morning at 9 a.m.”
Juncker, who left early to go to a meeting with David Cameron, said he would ask the British PM to “clarify as soon as possible” what the British position was, adding “we cannot be embroiled in lasting uncertainty,” and making clear once more that there would be no “informal” negotiations. “No notification, no negotiation,” Juncker said.
Juncker also said he was sad about the departure of the UK from the bloc, saying he was not a robot. He also vowed to continue his work at the head of the EU commission, denying reports from the German press that he was “tired or sick.”
EU nations are worried about the impact on the rest of the European Union of the uncertainty created by Britain’s vote, with little idea of when, or even if, the country will formally trigger article 50, which will officially start the negotiations for the UK to leave the bloc.
Nigel Farage then addressed the EP — possibly for the last time — and before insulting the MEPs, told them they were in denial about the union. He then went on to tell them they had never held “a real job” in their lives and that they were liars.
MEPs shouted so much over the UKIP leader that EP President Martin Schulz had to tell them to calm down as they were acting “like UKIP normally acts” when in the EP.
Farage agreed with Juncker on the fact that the UK should leave the bloc as soon as possible then tried to coerce the MEPs into giving the UK a good deal during the negotiations by saying that if they did not do so the EU would be far worse off than the UK. His remark was greeted with roaring laughter.
Unfortunately for Farage, facts are not on his side. Although financial markets have started to recover slightly on Tuesday, British finance minister George Osborne also announced that he would cut spending and raise taxes after the three credit ratings agency downgraded the country’s debt.
Companies have also announced hiring freezes and possible job cuts, all of which are at the opposite spectrum of what Farage prophesied.
Farage did not get a warm welcome from MEPs during the session. Juncker stopped his speech to ask him why he was still there and German MEP Manfred Weber said that “the worst liars can be found among UKIP,” before calling him out for backtracking on the Leave campaign’s biggest promise – that £350 million ($467 million) a week would go to the NHS once Britain stopped making payments to the EU – the day after the referendum.
The Scots voted strongly to remain in Europe, and the country is holding a parliamentary vote seeking backing for a drive to keep Scotland’s EU status, and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has suggested holding a second referendum on leaving the United Kingdom.
Farage was not the only leave campaigner to have a tough Tuesday though. Boris Johnson’s grand plans for the future of UK-EU relations were again smacked down by increasingly exasperated EU politicians.
Johnson suggested in a Daily Telegraph column that he would be able to keep the UK in the EU’s ‘Single Market’ but out of the Freedom of Movement Act, goals that are not compatible.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel explained on Tuesday that Britain would not be able “cherry-pick” the parts of the European Union it wants.
“I can only advise our British friends not to fool themselves … in terms of the necessary decisions that need to be made in Britain,” Merkel told the Bundestag.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that he hoped the split could be constructive, telling reporters in Brussels:
“Britain will be leaving the European Union but I want that process to be as constructive as possible and I hope the outcome can be as constructive as possible,” adding that the UK “mustn’t be turning [our] back on Europe. These countries are our neighbours, our friends, our allies, our partners.”
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