Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs on the European anthem

PUBLISHED: 10:18 02 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:28 02 July 2019

Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs during the European national anthem. Photograph: European Parliament.

Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs during the European national anthem. Photograph: European Parliament.

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At the opening of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Brexiteer MPs stood with their backs turned away from the chair during the playing of the European anthem.

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The insult was delivered as a quartet played Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' to the assembled parliament.

Commenting in a tweet, Labour's leader in the European parliament, MEP Richard Corbett, said it looked "pathetic".

It was not the only stunt pulled at the opening as Liberal Democrat MEPs made a show of support for the EU by wearing yellow 'Bollocks to Brexit' t-shirts, in a move that was tweeted about approvingly by chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.

WATCH: Lib Dem MEPs wear Bollocks to Brexit t-shirts to European parliament

Corbett told Sky News: "Wearing t-shirts is something that frequently happens in this parliament, but the gimmick of turning your back to the chair at the opening session, I think Nigel Farage and the Brexit Company MEPs thought they were being clever, but everyone looks at it with a bit of contempt, really, it's simply being rude to our colleagues from other countries."

Eurosceptic Conservative MEP Geoffrey van Orden criticised the move even though he chooses to sit down for the anthem as it is a "deliberate political act that I don't recognise", he told Sky News.

"But on the other hand I don't behave insultingly, or vulgarly, in the way that the Liberal Democrats have done. Our job here is actually to try and influence people and win people over and sway people from other countries of the need for a good deal ... it doesn't help by alienating people."

Brexit Party MEPs were predictably outraged by the Lib Dem gesture. "Bollocks to 17.4 million voters is what they are saying," he tweeted, having just turned his back on 400 million voters in the EU.

Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs in the European parliament. Photograph: Richard Corbett MEP.Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs in the European parliament. Photograph: Richard Corbett MEP.

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