Many years ago, while on a business trip to Brussels, Belgium, I realized that all the statues in that city were dedicated to foreigners. Queen Victoria figured prominently, for example. My traveling companions and I then invented a game: name five famous Belgians. I could think of only one, Hercule Poirot – and he was a fictional character.
You can probably see where I’m going. It’s time to snicker at Europe again.
The last time I yielded to this unfortunate addiction, a strange little man called Herman Van Rompuy had just been appointed president of Europe (or, as Mark Steyn invariably puts it, “president” of “Europe”). His name alone delighted me – his appearance was a snicker bonus. Lastly, he happened to be a Belgian.
Well, not only does Europe have a “president,” it also has a “parliament.” And in that parliament, paradoxically, there are anti-European members. One of these is Nigel Farage, a Brit, who spoke to that august chamber in a manner that, if not Lincolnian in eloquence, at least was good enough to go viral on YouTube.
Farage turned to Herman Van Rompuy and addressed him thusly:
“I don’t want to be rude but, really, you have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk.
“The question I want to ask is: who are you? I’d never heard of you, nobody in Europe had ever heard of you.
“I can speak on behalf of the majority of British people in saying that we don’t know you, we don’t want you and the sooner you are put out to grass, the better.”
The best thing about the video is watching Herman Van Rompuy’s face.
Somewhere during his tirade, Farage called Belgium a “non-country.” That is of course true, but never to be mentioned in the gathering-places of EU politicians, and least of all in Brussels. For this disgraceful utterance of truth, Farage has been fined 3,000 euros.
The incorrigible Brit still had the last word, however.
“Free speech is an expensive business in the European Parliament,” he observed.