Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage waves the Union flag ahead of a vote on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the final legislative step in the Brexit proceedings, during the plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. The U.K. is due to leave the EU on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, the first nation in the bloc to do so. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Brexit is here.
Tomorrow, the United Kingdom will again be a sovereign nation and not a satrapy of the European Union and lorded over by unanswerable bureaucrats in Brussels.
One of the men most responsible for Britain’s exit was long-time Euroskeptic and EU critic Nigel Farage. Farage has been a member of the EU parliament since 1999 as either a member of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) or Brexit Party. Yesterday, he took to the floor of that august institution to bid it a fond farewell. The speech was epic.
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 has 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 month, and Ms. [garbled] he’s made it clear, he’s promised us, there will 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 11 p.m. this Friday the 31st of 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 terrible, 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 [French President Valery] Giscard [d’Estaing] 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 to vote again, but what we’ve 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 in the Brexit party, we love Europe. We just hate the European Union. It’s as simple as that.
So I’m hoping this begins the end of this project. It is a bad project. It isn’t just undemocratic, it is antidemocratic. 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 is a historic battle going on 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 is 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 a sovereign nation… [Farage is cut off by the chair]
At this point, the chair, European Parliament vice-president Mairead McGuiness, began losing her sense of humor and started scolding Farage and the British delegation who did what a free people should do to overbearing bureaucrats. They mocked her and left waving their flags.
The whole thing is epic. And if you think this speech won’t reverberate across a Europe that is becoming fed up with unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats sticking their nose in every facet of national life, I would submit that you are mistaken. Farage will be proven right. This is the beginning of the end of the Franco-German project to dominate Europe. The second-largest economy in Europe just bailed. Now France and Germany, neither of which are all that healthy, are left leading a consortium of weak, failing, and failed economies. It is simply not sustainable.
Farage has fought an epic struggle against tyranny and gutlessness and has proven true the aphorism that one man with courage makes a majority.