Nigel Farage “will not take a penny” of the £153,000 windfall he could claim for his 20-year stint as a member of the European parliament, his spokesman has said, as the UK’s 73 MEPs are set to be told on Monday night about any cash payouts they are due.
Farage could leave the EU on 31 January with a pre-tax golden goodbye worth €178,657 (£152,992) under a European parliament “transition allowance” for ex-MEPs, a calculation based on his 20 complete years since 1999.
Asked about the transition allowance, a spokesman for Farage said: “He won’t take a penny.”
In 2017, Farage told Sky News he would “probably” take the money, but did not expect the parliament to give it to him.
The UK’s 73 MEPs were due to be informed about their exit arrangements at a special meeting at the European parliament in Strasbourg on Monday night. It is the third such briefing, reflecting the shifting Brexit date, from 29 March 2019, to 31 October and now 31 January 2020.
Most of Farage’s Brexit Party MEPs, such as Annunziata Rees-Mogg and Richard Tice, will quit the EU stage without any prospect of an EU golden goodbye, as they have been MEPs for less than one year, so are not entitled to the allowance.
Former MEPs are entitled to one month of salary, for every year they have been an MEP, for a maximum of 20 months. But as many British MEPs were newly elected in May 2019, they have not served long enough.
MEPs are not entitled to the funds if they are elected to another parliament or take public sector work. Parliament sources said there was nothing to stop MEPs from claiming the transition allowance while taking a job with the private or charity sector.
Farage, a former City of London metals trader, joined the European parliament in 1999, when leaving the EU was an eccentric project for the little-known UKIP party. In one of his first speeches, attacking the EU for its ban on British beef, Farage urged the UK government to “leave this club and get into the real trading world”. After two decades as an MEP, his rhetoric has become Conservative party orthodoxy.
Farage became one of the European parliament’s highest earning MEPs for second jobs, although has been overtaken by new Brexit party MEPs, such as property fund manager Ben Habib and former Tory minister turned reality TV star Ann Widdecombe. In 2019 Farage earned €360,000 (£319,000) a year from his Thorn in the Side media company, making him the seventh best paid out of 227 MEPs with second jobs.
At the meeting scheduled for Monday night, MEPs were to be told that they have to clear out of their Brussels office by 7 February, although they have to vacate their Strasbourg bureau by Thursday, the final day of their final meeting in the French city.
The departing British MEPs will have to return access passes, special EU ‘laissez-passer’ cards, voting cards, office keys, iPads and laptops, as well as passes allowing free travel on the Belgian railway network SNCB.
Many British MEPs may feel they don’t need to attend the briefing, as similar gatherings were arranged before earlier Brexit days of 31 October and 29 March. But the Liberal Democrats and Brexit Party succeeded in getting large numbers of first-time MEPs elected.
On leaving the parliament, MEPs can apply to join the Former Members Association, which has the aim of “harness[ing] the experience of former members with a view to strengthening parliamentary democracy”, according to an internal document. The MEPs are also to be informed about arrangements for their staff: Brussels-based staff are to quit by 31 January, while staff based in the UK could stay on longer.
Parliament officials confirmed on Wednesday that MEPs would vote on the Brexit withdrawal agreement on Wednesday 29 January. The result was seen as a foregone conclusion paving the way for Britain’s exit on 31 January.
Officials are still weighing how to mark Brexit day, but nothing has been fixed. “It’s nothing to celebrate,” said one EU source.