Another day in European parliament, another chance for Nigel Farage to cause drama.
The Brexit Party leader sparked both laughter and shouts of anger from MEPS in Brussels on Tuesday after he suggested Ursula von der Leyen – who is expected to become the next president of the European Commission – was a communist.
Having been chosen as a candidate by EU leaders earlier this month, the German defence minister must win the backing of at least 374 MEPs in a confirmation vote on Tuesday in order to secure the job.
But Farage called on the European parliament to reject von der Leyen, who is a political ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel.
“What you’ve seen from Ursula von der Leyen today is an attempt for the European Union to take control of every single aspect of our lives,” he told MEPs.
“She wants to build a centralised, undemocratic, updated form of communism… where nation-state parliaments will cease to have any relevance at all,” Farage continued to a chorus of jibes and laughter.
“I have to say from our perspective, in some ways I’m really rather pleased because you’ve just made Brexit a lot more popular in the United Kingdom. Thank God we’re leaving.”
It comes after von der Leyen – who set out her agenda as Commission president to MEPs this morning – said she was willing to delay the Brexit deadline beyond October 31.
“I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason,” she said, adding that the UK will remain “our ally, our partner and our friend”.
The 60-year-old centre-right politician, who will replace Jean-Claude Juncker in November if she wins backing from MEPs, also pledged to launch a “green deal for Europe” to curb climate change, with the aim of making the EU carbon neutral by 2050 one of her key policies.
Meanwhile, she voiced her support for gender equality, saying she would ensure she had a balanced college of commissioners.
“If member states do not propose enough female commissioners, I will not hesitate to ask for new names,” she tweeted.