Nigel Farage heckled over 'mafia' remark to MEPs

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are expected to address the European Parliament after it opens debate at 9:00 am (3:00pm Singapore time).

Nigel Farage, an EU Parliament member whose U.K. Independence Party helped persuade 52 percent of British voters to endorse Brexit in last June's referendum, earned a rebuke from the assembly's Italian president, Antonio Tajani, by accusing the rest of the bloc of "behaving like the Mafia" in the run-up to the negotiations. "It has absolutely no basis in the Treaties because we have triggered Article 50 and in two years time we have no future liabilities".

The former Ukip leader, who still heads the right-wing Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy grouping in Brussels, said that MEPs' red lines for the upcoming negotiations - which were passed in a vote today - were akin to a "ransom demand".

Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right EPP group, told Spain: "You will not be alone when you negotiate with London over the status of Gibraltar".

According to the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, a two-year period of talks would then need to take place with the 27 remaining European Union member states.

The German MEP also voiced against "cherry-picking", saying "On security, you can not be part of Europol and benefit from the Schengen Information System".

"We believe fundamentally that we have a duty to safeguard the acquired rights of the European Union citizens living in United Kingdom and UK citizens living in the European Union based on equity and reciprocity", declared Gianni Pittella (Italy), president of the Socialists and Democrats group. "Great Britain must also no longer maintain tax havens in the Carribeans like the Cayman Islands or the BVI, as they promote worldwide tax dumping and money laundering", German Green MEP Sven Giegold said.

Citizens' rights were highlighted in the resolution, which noted in particular the Irish citizens.

Finally, the European Union members decided that regardless of the course of the discussions between London and Brussels, "the process of peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland must continue". In particular, this includes financial commitments which may extend beyond the British withdrawal.

It also backs the call for transparency in the talks, and for the United Kingdom to be considered liable for financial commitments that apply after it leaves the EU.

But she has also said she is prepared to walk away from the talks without a deal rather than accept a "bad" one, despite fears among manufacturers over new trade barriers if Britain has to revert to World Trade Organization rules.

He told reporters at the session in Strasbourg that Britain will also put citizens' rights first in the Brexit process. It is also our best chance to build trust.

Verhofstadt said he regretted the British vote to leave the EU, but suggested a future young generation might return to the European fold.

  • Leroy Wright