Anger, jeers mark debate on UK’s EU exit
A central figure in the Leave campaign, UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, was booed, called a liar and accused of using “Nazi propaganda”.
Mr Farage shot back that the EU itself was “in denial”.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is meeting leaders of the other 27 EU states for the first time since Thursday’s referendum.
“I’ll be explaining that Britain will be leaving the European Union but I want that process to be as constructive as possible,” he told reporters before the summit’s working dinner in Brussels.
An EU official close to the talks told BBC News the mood was “very, very serious” and a question mark hung over the UK’s next presidency of the EU, due to begin in the second half of next year.
“The leaders are very interested in hearing the UK’s timeline but everyone knows Cameron won’t trigger Article 50 [the first formal step in the withdrawal procedure],” the source added.
The announcement of Mr Cameron’s replacement as leader of the Conservative Party, and thus prime minister, is not due now until 9 September, with 12:00 BST Thursday as the deadline for nominations.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned against delay in starting the exit process: “I don’t think we should see any shadow-boxing or any cat-and-mouse games. It is clear what the British people want and we should act accordingly.”
Hundreds of people attended a pro-EU rally in London on Tuesday – the initial meeting in Trafalgar Square was abandoned over fears of crowd numbers, but those who did gather moved down Whitehall to continue their protest outside the Houses of Parliament.
Demonstrators chanted “Down with Boris” – referring to senior Tory Boris Johnson – and slogans against UKIP leader Nigel Farage, both of whom were two of the leading figures in the Brexit movement.
And hundreds also turned out in Cardiff, at an event which included speeches from Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and racial equality activist Shazia Awan.
Spokeswoman Beca Harries, said: “Cardiff voted to remain in the European Union, and we felt it was important to mark that and say, these results don’t represent what we believe in.”
Other rallies in Manchester and Oxford were abandoned over “safety fears” and a protest in Liverpool was postponed until next week.
The European Parliament passed a motion urging the UK to start the exit process by triggering Article 50 immediately.
Opening the session, Mr Juncker said the will of the British people must be respected, prompting shouting and clapping from Mr Farage.
“You were fighting for the exit, the British people voted in favour of the exit – why are you here?” Mr Juncker responded, to applause from others in parliament.
He accused Mr Farage of lying about using the UK’s EU contributions to fund the country’s National Health Service, saying he had “fabricated reality”.
Belgian ex-Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said Mr Farage had used “Nazi propaganda” in the referendum campaign, referring to a poster showing lines of refugees.
This was a stormy and deeply emotional debate, with accusations and counter-accusations of lying.
Britain’s vote to leave the EU has divided and shaken the European Parliament. This is a watershed moment.
Many MEPs expressed sadness at losing the UK. There was a standing ovation for the UK’s outgoing Commissioner, Lord Hill.
But there was also a strong sense of defiance, as well as concern for the future. There were calls for unity, for reform, and the need to connect to Europe’s citizens.
For the Eurosceptic groups, this was a sweet moment of victory. Something that once appeared almost impossible has become reality.
Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People’s Party group told Mr Farage: “Stop this populist Brussels bashing.”
Hitting back, Mr Farage told parliament that they were “in denial”.
He said hardly any of the MEPs had ever done a proper job in their lives, or created one.
“We now offer a beacon of hope to democrats across the European continent,” he said. “The UK will not be the last member state to leave the EU.” BBC
Picture: Pro-EU protesters at Westminster courtesy BBC.