Brexit Party MEPs shocked the opening session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg by turning their backs on the EU anthem. The MEPs from Nigel Farage’s party kicked off their time at the European Parliament in dramatic fashion. The 29 Brexiteer MEPs carried out the orchestrated move as soon as the Ode to Joy began to play.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani responded by chiding the MEPs, saying: “You stand for the anthem of another country”.
The orchestrated act of defiance was met with backlash from Remainers.
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker tweeted that the decision to turn their backs was “embarrassingly childish”.
Long-serving Labour MEP Richard Corbett said the Brexiteers “think they’re being clever by standing with their backs to the chair at the opening session”.
He added that the move “looks pathetic and has not impressed anyone”.
Mr Corbett described the stunt as “simply being rude to our colleagues from other countries”.
The opening session of the European Parliament also saw Liberal Democrat MEPs march in with shirts brandishing anti-Brexit slogans.
The Liberal Democrat contingent turned up to the first sitting of the parliament wearing an identical series of yellow ‘B****** to Brexit’ t-shirts.
“On the other hand, I don’t behave insultingly or vulgarly in the way that the Liberal Democrats have done.
“Our job here is to actually try and influence people and win people over and persuade people of other countries of the need for a good deal with the UK so we can get Brexit done, it doesn’t help by alienating them.”
Mr Van-Orden went on to say: “For years the European Union has said that it doesn’t have the ambition to be a state.
“It is States that have an anthem. I’m sorry but I don’t recognise a state called Europe, I want to see a Europe of independent nation states.”
In a sign of things of things to come, tension between the European Parliament officials and Brexiteers erupted again when the tellers were randomly selected.
Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips was told off within minutes of taking her seat in the European Parliament for waving a Union Flag in the Strasbourg chamber.
She had been randomly selected to serve as a teller to monitor the selection process of the next European Parliament president.
Mr Tajani scolded Ms Phillips for her behaviour in the Strasbourg chamber.
He said: “Miss, you have been selected to be a teller. You are not a center-forward in a football team.”
Speaking in Strasbourg, leader Nigel Farage promised a “turquoise takeover” if Brexit is not delivered.
Mr Farage, who was also re-confirmed as MEP for the fourth time, said: “We are here to be defiant. We shouldn’t be here at all.
“We are hoping we are only going to be here until October 31. And if we have to stay longer than that they’ll know we’re here.
“At the moment, we are cheerful because we won the election. We are the biggest party in the whole of Europe – how about that?”