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Despite Anti-Bank Rhetoric, Nigel Farage Now Wants Free Trade With EU

  • Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and Member of the European Parliament holds a British Union Jack flag as he waits for the start of a debate at the European Parliament.

    Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and Member of the European Parliament holds a British Union Jack flag as he waits for the start of a debate at the European Parliament. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 June 2016

Nigel Farage campaigned on Tuesday for free trade with the European Union, despite giving the Brexit camp an anti-establishment, anti-banks flavor.

Britain will be the European Union's "best friend" after the bloc strikes a deal to allow for tariff-free trade, Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, told the European Parliament.

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"Let's cut between us a sensible tariff-free deal and thereafter recognize that the United Kingdom will be your friend (...) your best friends in the world," Farage said to booing from some members of parliament.

"If you were to cut off your noses to spite your faces and to reject any idea of a sensible trade deal the consequences would be far worse for you than it would be for us," Farage added. "We won the war. Now we have to win the peace."

The German speaker of parliament, Martin Schulz, had to chide angry lawmakers and ask them to let Farage speak, accusing them of imitating tactics he said were normally used by the Independence Party.

A few hours earlier, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asked lawmakers of Britain's anti-EU UKIP on Tuesday why they had attended a European Parliament session to discuss the consequences of the British vote to leave the bloc.

"We must respect British democracy and the way it has expressed its view," Juncker said in a speech to parliament, words that were greeted by rare applause from the UKIP members present.

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"That's the last time you are applauding here... and to some extent I'm really surprised you are here. You are fighting for the exit. The British people voted in favor of the exit. Why are you here?" Juncker continued, breaking from his speech text.

Juncker spoke from a desk next to that of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who followed the largely French and German speech with headphones and with a British flag planted in front of him.

Farage had campaigned for a British exit on an anti-establishment platform, criticizing David Cameron, who resigned from the prime ministry, for cozying up with "big corporate mates" such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, who donated hundreds of thousands of pounds each to the "remain" campaign.

“And what you’ve got here is the unholy alliance of the big banks and big politics," Farage said on LBC radio the day before the referendum vote. “Those very same big banks that behaved appallingly and had to be bailed out back in 2008. They’re going to tell us what to do in the future and my advice is we should ignore them.”

He brushed aside warnings by the Bank of England and the IMF that a British exit from the EU would have dire economic consequences.

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"Of course they are paid to say so," he said in an interview on ITV last month. "The IMF is virtually a branch office of the European Commission. It props up the euro."

Financial markets recovered slightly after the result of Thursday's referendum wiped a record US$3 trillion off global shares and sterling fell to its lowest level in 31 years, but trading was volatile and policymakers said they would take all necessary measures to protect their economies.

British finance minister George Osborne, whose attempt to calm markets fell on deaf ears on Monday, said the country would have to cut spending and raise taxes to stabilize the economy after a third credit ratings agency downgraded its debt.

Firms have announced hiring freezes and possible job cuts, dashing voters' hopes the economy would thrive outside the EU.

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