There were loud outbursts today in the European Parliament as UKIP MEP Nigel Farage
addressed the newly-appointed EU President, Herman Van Rompuy, and compared his charisma to that of a "damp rag".
"I don't want to be rude - but, you know, really, you have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk," Mr Farage told Mr Van Rompuy.
"And the question that I want to ask is: Who are you? I had never heard of you. Nobody in Europe had ever heard of you. I would like to ask you, President, who voted for you? And what mechanism do the peoples of Europe have to remove you? Is this European democracy? " asked Mr Farage, amid continuous disruption.
"Well, I sense though that you're competent and capable and dangerous," Mr Farage continued, "and I have no doubt that it's your intention to be the quiet assassin of European democracy and of the European nation states. You appear to have a loathing for the very concept of the existence of nation states - perhaps that's because you come from Belgium, which of course is pretty much a non-country.
"Sir, you have no legitimacy in this job at all, and I can say with confidence, that I can speak on behalf of the majority of the British people in saying: we don't know you, we don't want you, and the sooner you're put out to grass, the better," Mr Farage concluded.
The S&D group president Martin Schulz expressed strong disapproval at Mr Farage's expressions and demanded action from the Parliament President. In his short rebuttal Mr Farage reminded Mr Schulz of the defamatory remarks that he (Schulz) and others had made against him and the EFD group for supporting the No side in the Irish referendum.
Nigel Farage, co-president of the EFD group, was speaking in Brussels during the debate, in which Van Rompuy made his maiden speech in Parliament, concerning the informal European Council held on 11 February 2010 .
[UPDATE - 27 Feb.]
Replying to a press release by MEP Véronique De Keyser
condemning Mr Farage, two non-attached Belgian MEPs, Frank Vanhecke and Philip Claeys
, told her, "whether you like it or not, Nigel Farage was absolutely right when he called Belgium a non-country. Belgium is an artificial country, a failed state. It will be the next Czechoslovakia. There is no common denominator between Flemings and Walloons. There is no shared sense of identity, just as there are no Belgian political parties anymore."
"The question is not whether this ungovernable country will eventually break up, the question is when this will happen," they wrote in their concluding remarks.