Brexit Party boisterous at final EU elections rally

22 May 2019 / 09:37 H.

LONDON: Thousands of cheering supporters gave eurosceptic figurehead Nigel Farage a raucous ovation on Tuesday as his Brexit Party staged its final rally before the fiercely-contested European Parliament elections.

Backers packed out a London hall in support of a party that did not exist six weeks ago yet is now way ahead in the opinion polls.

Meanwhile across the British capital, the Liberal Democrats, the biggest anti-Brexit party contesting the EU elections on Thursday, held their final pre-vote rally before a much smaller yet still determined crowd.

At the Olympia venue, several thousand had paid £2.50 (RM13) to see Farage, who was roared on as he lambasted MPs who have so far failed to deliver on the 2016 Brexit referendum verdict and get Britain out of the European Union.

“The establishment: They’re not frightened – they’re absolutely terrified!” Farage said of his party’s rise.

“We’ve managed to give millions and millions of people in this country – who were frustrated, upset, angry, on the point of saying they may never vote again, so sick were they of the shenanigans – we have given them hope, optimism and belief.”

Farage was given a rock-star welcome, with booming music and fireworks as supporters chanted his name and waved flags in the party’s turquoise colours. Many had come straight from the office in their suits and work attire.

European Parliamentary elections have historically registered very little interest in Britain but the battle over Brexit has set them alight this time.

PM ‘humiliated our nation’

The names of Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and EU chiefs were booed as Farage spoke about eclipsing Britain’s two main parties.

“This is now about far more than leaving the European Union. This is about a bigger, more fundamental question of democracy,“ he said.

“Mrs May, by her constant, abject surrenders to these unelected bully-boys in Brussels, has humiliated our nation and I’ve had enough of it.”

There was also a surprise appearance by former Czech president and prime minister Vaclav Klaus, who said many on the continent were uneasy with the European integration project.

He said Brussels was out to “punish, denigrate and humiliate Great Britain”, and show other EU nations there was “no friendly exit” and that “small countries don’t have a chance to leave”.

“In the forthcoming elections, you should give the whole rest of Europe a good example. Many Europeans need it and many are waiting for it. Don’t disappoint them.”

Stop Brexit: Cable

On Wednesday, Farage will debate head-to-head with Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable.

The centrist party is on course to be confirmed in Thursday’s vote as the biggest force unambiguously wanting to stop Brexit in its tracks.

Around 300 supporters attended the Lib Dems’ final rally, designed to showcase their resurgence.

“A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for an international, outward-looking Britain. A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit,“ Cable told the gathering.

The pro-EU party’s outright rejection of Brexit appears to be resonating with Remain voters who would normally back Labour or the Conservatives.

May’s new offer spurned

The rallies came after May pledged to give lawmakers a vote on holding a second Brexit referendum – a key Lib Dem demand supported by many Labour MPs – as part of her final effort to salvage her thrice-rejected EU divorce deal.

The embattled premier, who will set out her departure plans early next month, dangled sweeteners that she hopes can resolve the Brexit crisis swamping Britain.

But at both the Brexit Party and Lib Dem rallies, attendees seemed unimpressed.

“It’s kamikaze politics, it has to be,“ said singer Graham Martin at the Olympia, while retiree Gavin Morris added: “My gut reaction is that she’s got no idea and it’s another sellout.”

Meanwhile at the Lib Dem rally, academic Christopher Wintle said: “She’s trying to appease both people and she’s going to fall between all stools,“ and editor Kate Hopkins added: “It’s a bit too late to start offering an olive branch to the Remainers.” — AFP

email blast