Nigel Farage vows to remain MEP until UK strikes EU deal

Ukip’s outgoing leader says he will miss being European Parliament’s ‘pantomime villain’

Former leader of Ukip Nigel Farage: his term as an MEP will officially end in the spring of 2019 when the next European Parliament elections take place. Photograph:  Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

Former leader of Ukip Nigel Farage: his term as an MEP will officially end in the spring of 2019 when the next European Parliament elections take place. Photograph: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

 

The outgoing leader of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) Nigel Farage has said he will “miss the theatre” of the European Parliament, but vowed to remain as an MEP until Britain strikes a new deal with the European Union.

Speaking at a press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg where he has been a member since 1999, Mr Farage said he would miss being the “pantomime villain” of the European Parliament.

“I shall miss it enormously. I’ve had an absolute whale of a time,” the Ukip leader said. “On the personal level, I’ll miss being the pantomime villain. I’ve just so much enjoyed them all booing at me and shouting. It’s been wonderful. That part of it I’ll miss.”

Mr Farage announced he would step down as leader of the UK Independence Party on Monday, saying he had achieved his “political ambition” of securing Britain’s exit from the EU. A successor for the party is expected to be named at the Ukip party conference in the autumn.

Mr Farage’s term as an MEP will officially end in the spring of 2019 when the next European Parliament elections take place, though British MEPs could be forced to step down before then if Britain officially exits the EU.

Mr Farage is expected to retain his position as chair of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament, despite calls from some members of the group for his resignation.

Mr Farage warned against Britain choosing a Norway-style relationship with the EU, following the country’s decision to leave the bloc, arguing that the single market was in fact a “protectionist club”.  

“It rather suits big companies to be part of something that keeps consumer prices more expensive.”

He urged the next British prime minister to recognise Britain’s “strong hand” in the forthcoming talks, and to activate Article 50, the official exit clause that sets out the withdrawal procedure, as soon as possible.

“I hope we see a strong prime minister that recognises in the commercial world it’s the customer that is king and we are the customer, we are the buyer.”

The fall-out from the British referendum result has dominated this week’s plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg as MEPs debated the next steps for the EU.

MEPs also signed off on new legislation to create a European Border and Coast Guard which was proposed by the European Commission in response to the migration crisis. The new body will allow national border authorities to be supported by the EU’s border agency Frontex, even if a member state does not request help from the EU.