Furore as England's anti-EU Farage drops Nazi jibe
(BRUSSELS) - Eurosceptic British MEP Nigel Farage stormed out of the European Parliament Wednesday after its German chairman cut him off in mid-flight for comparing Berlin's ideas for Greece to Nazi control.
During a post-EU summit debate featuring top bloc leaders, Farage criticised a leaked German plan for EU control of Greek public spending, saying bailed out Athens was already practically an EU "colony, a terrible huge mistake."
A former metals trader in London and now a popular television political pundit, Farage described the German finance ministry's proposals -- placed before eurozone counterparts seeking adoption -- as installing "a gauleiter" -- a Nazi party regional official under Adolf Hitler.
The darling of London's right, Farage said of Berlin's proposal: "Suggesting an EU commissioner and his staff occupy a big building in Athens and take over the running of the country, a 'gauleiter' some may say, I thought it must be a joke."
The comment provoked uproar, especially among German MEPs, with Greens lawmaker Reinhard Buetikofer accusing the UK Independence Party (UKIP) chief of spreading "hatred in the European Parliament, hatred between European peoples".
Newly-installed parliament speaker Martin Schulz intervened with a comment about the perils of nationalism.
Farage came back: "We have German newspapers slagging off the Greeks for being lazy and useless, slagging off the Italians for being cowards and we have Italian and Greek newspapers depicting leading figures in Germany wearing Nazi uniforms."
The Englishman was called to order from the speaker's chair, and finally Schulz turned off Farage's microphone, said top parliament spokesman Armin Machmer.
The head of a grouping of like-minded nationalist-leaning lawmakers, Farage finally had no option but to "walk out of the chamber in disgust," his spokesman Hermann Kelly said.
Claiming he was only repeating a word used in British media at the weekend, Farage later lodged a formal complaint against Schulz.
He said his longstanding sparring partner -- before the German became speaker last month -- had overstepped the constitutional boundaries of his authorised role as moderator.
"His only answer was to threaten me with removal from the chamber by the ushers," Farage told AFP.
As chairman, Schulz should not feel "entitled to comment on the content of a speech made by a member" of the house, Farage added.
Machmer had already told AFP that Farage could face a fine of up to 10 days' parliamentary allowances, should Schulz, a Socialist on the opposite side of the political fence from Chancellor Angela Merkel's German ruling coalition, decide to take action.
The UKIP standard-bearer already pushed the legislature to the limit two years ago by stating that then incoming EU president Herman Van Rompuy had only "the charisma of a low-grade bank clerk."
Once seen as a maverick, Farage is now viewed by some political observers as a long-term threat to the establishment, given his hold over a growing rump of mainly English voters who want a referendum on ending European Union membership.
He secured a million votes at the last general election, and his popularity rose after he survived a serious air accident on polling day that meant he underwent a series of operations on his back.
His progress is one reason why pressure remains high on Prime Minister David Cameron over his EU policies.
Farage and fellow eurosceptics in Cameron's Conservatives are also eyeing Scotland's upcoming vote on independence from the rest of the United Kingdom as a key opportunity.The incident can be seen on Youtube
Text and Picture Copyright 2012 AFP. All other Copyright 2012 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.