Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs while 'European anthem' played at parliament's opening session

Brexit Party MEPs staged their own protest on the opening day of the European Parliament in Strasbourg - turning their backs during a rendition of the European Anthem.

Leader Nigel Farage and newly-elected candidates including Annunziata Rees-Mogg made the protest as the anthem, based on Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, was played as representatives gathered for the parliament’s first session since May's European elections.

Several people shared pictures of the protest, including Mr Farage who wrote on Twitter: "The Brexit Party has already made its presence felt."

Mr Farage performed the same protest at the start of the session in 2014, along with the Ukip MEPs he led at the time.

Paul Nuttall, the party's then deputy leader, said it was intended to send a message that they did not "recognise or respect the EU flag or anthem".


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The move comes a day after Brexit Party MEP David Bull sparked ridicule on Twitter after posting a video complaining about having to travel to Europe as part of his new job.

Mr Bull, who won a North West seat in the recent European elections, filmed himself on the platform at Ipswich station moaning about his eight-hour commute from Ipswich to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Other people in the parliament also refused to stand at all as the EU's anthem, which is played on official occasions, was performed by a jazz ensemble.

Liberal Democrat MEPs also staged their own protest, taking their seats wearing yellow "bollocks to Brexit" T-shirts.

But the Brexit Party’s stance fell under fire from critics who dismissed the move as petty.

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: "Brexit Party MEPs turning their backs on Europe, as they do their best to isolate the UK from the world. This is petty, small minded little England at its worst. These plonkers do a proud and open nation a disservice. Shame on them."

Conservative MP Nicholas Soames tweeted: "Truly pathetic oafish childish behaviour by Brexit and Liberal MEPs #growup", while Labour MEP Richard branded the move “pathetic”.

Tuesday marked the opening of the new five-year session of the European Parliament, though the length of the UK's involvement remains in doubt.

UK MEPs may sit in the parliament until the country formally leaves the EU.

The UK is due to leave the EU on October 31 but that could be extended if a deal can’t be reached by then.

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