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Wednesday, 29 January 2020 - Brussels Revised edition

Withdrawal Agreement of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (debate)

  Nigel Farage (NI). – Madam President, so this is it, the final chapter, the end of the road: a 47—year political experiment that the British, frankly, have never been very happy with. My mother and father signed up to a common market, not to a political union, not to flags, anthems, presidents – and now you even want your own army.

For me, it’s been 27 years of campaigning and over 20 years here in this Parliament. I’m not particularly happy with the agreement we’re being asked to vote on tonight, but Boris has been remarkably bold in the last few months and, Ms von der Leyen, he’s made it clear: he’s promised us there’ll be no level playing field. And, on that basis, I wish him every success in the next round of negotiations, I really do.

But the most significant point is this: what happens at 11p.m. this Friday, 31 January 2020 marks the point of no return. Once we’ve left we are never coming back, and the rest, frankly, is detail. We’re going, we will be gone – and that should be the summit of my own political ambitions. I walked in here – as I’ve said before, you all thought it was terribly funny, you stopped laughing in 2016 – but my view has changed of Europe since I joined.

In 2005, I saw the Constitution that had been drafted by Giscard and others. I saw it rejected by the French in a referendum. I saw it rejected by the Dutch in a referendum. And I saw you, in these institutions, ignore them, bring it back as the Lisbon Treaty and boast you could ram it through without there being referendums. Well, the Irish did have a vote and did say no and were forced to vote again. You’re very good at making people vote again. But what we proved is, the British are too big to bully, thank goodness.

So I became an outright opponent of the entire European project. I want Brexit to start a debate across the rest of Europe. What do we want from Europe? If we want trade, friendship, cooperation, reciprocity, we don’t need a European Commission. We don’t need a European Court. We don’t need these institutions and all of this power. And I can promise you, both in UKIP and indeed in the Brexit party, we love Europe; we just hate the European Union. It’s a simple as that.

So I’m hoping this begins the end of this project. It’s a bad project. It isn’t just undemocratic, it’s anti—democratic, and it puts in that front row, it gives people power without accountability – people who cannot be held to account by the electorate. And that is an unacceptable structure.

Indeed, there’s an historic battle going on now across the West: in Europe, America and elsewhere. It is globalism against populism. And you may loathe populism, but I’ll tell you a funny thing, it’s becoming very popular, and it has great benefits: no more financial contributions, no more European Court of Justice, no more common fisheries policy, no more being talked down to, no more being bullied, no more Guy Verhofstadt. I mean, what’s not to like?

I know you’re going to miss us, I know you want to ban our national flags, but we’re going to wave you goodbye and we’ll look forward, in the future, to working with you as sovereign...

(The President cut off the speaker)

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