Farage slapped down in EU parliament after bizarre ‘communism’ rant
- Credit: Archant
On the day EU leaders vote on the next European Commission chief, nominee Ursula von der Leyen had strong words in response to Nigel Farage's speech in which he accused her of wanting an 'updated form of communism'.
Von der Leyen told Farage drily that she wants to work more closely with the UK, but that "we can probably do without what you've got to say," to applause from the gathered party representatives.
Farage had said that von der Leyen's pitch to leaders was "an attempt of the European Union to take control of every single aspect of our lives".
He continued, to growing jeers: "She wants to build a centralised, undemocratic, updated form of communism that will render nation state parliaments, where the state controls everything, where nation state parliaments will cease to have any relevance at all."
He went on to accuse the former German defence minister, who wants a united EU military, of being a "fanatic" advocate of an EU army, which would spell the end of NATO. He described Emmanuel Macron appearing with European forces on Bastille Day as "an updated version of Napoleon".
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No mention of an EU army - or indeed communism - was made in von der Leyen's speech, where she stated: "The cornerstone of our collective defence will always be NATO."
In a proposal that is unlikely to be supported by smaller states, she said that the EU needed to be able to "act fast" on decisions relating to outside the EU, by requiring only a qualified majority - 55% of member states - rather than a unanimous vote.
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On the issue of migration, she called for "more humane borders" and a renewed pact on asylum, but also to bolster the European border agency.
Von der Leyen argued for greater climate action, saying: "I want Europe to become the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050." She proposed an overarching Green Deal and a Europe-wide investment plan, turning the European Investment Bank into a "climate bank", and a carbon border tax.
She also called for ensuring fairer taxation of tech giants, a flexible minimum wage agreement, and a Europe-wide unemployment benefit.
Noting that less than 20% of European Commissioners have been women, she said: "I will ensure full gender equality in my college of commissioners."
Turning to Brexit, she said: "A member state decided to leave the European Union. This is a serious decision. We regret it. But we respect it."
She reiterated her support for Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement, but added, to jeers from the Brexit Party MEPs: "I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date should more time be required for a good reason."
The prospective leader has stated on several occasions that she would back the UK if it asked to revoke Article 50.
WATCH: Nominee for EU commission chief would back last minute revocation of Article 50Von der Leyen followed her clapback to Farage's comments with an impassioned endorsement of working together in the EU.
"That's what I find beautiful about Europe," she said. "Here in our Europe, countries come together on a voluntary basis. Nobody has forced them to come together ... The great challenges facing the world are so enormous that none of us alone can face up to them."