EU president branded 'damp rag'
EU president Herman Van Rompuy got a rude reception when he appeared before the European parliament for the first time on Wednesday, when British eurosceptic Nigel Farage called him a "damp rag" nobody.
"But really you have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk," he continued to an astonished chamber in Brussels.
"Who are you? I'd never heard of you, nobody in Europe had ever heard of you," Farage thundered to a growing swell of disapproval.
"Oh I know democracy is not popular with you lot," he continued, turning his attention on his noisy detractors.
The British MEP, known for his feisty, some say unparliamentary, interventions then went on to add some faint praise for the former Belgian prime minister.
"I sense though that you are competent and capable and dangerous, and I have no doubt that your intention is to be the quiet assassin of European democracy and of European nation states," he added.
To back up his point he asserted that since Van Rompuy had assumed his role last December, "we have seen Greece reduced to nothing more than a protectorate," a reference to first-hand fiscal monitoring imposed by the EU on the troubled Greek economy.
"You seem to have a loathing for the very concept of the existence of nation states," Farage added.
"Perhaps that's because you come from Belgium, which is pretty much a non-country."
Head of the EU parliamentary Socialists Martin Schulz leapt up with a point of order, calling Farage's tirade "not acceptable" and seeking his resignation.
EU parliamentary president Jerzy Buzek, chairing the deteriorating proceedings, agreed that such "character assassination" was out of order.
Van Rompuy himself had to sit through several more, less inflammatory, speeches from the floor before he got his right to reply.
"There was one contribution that I can only hold in contempt but I am not going to comment on further," he said, before going on with the main business of the day, Europe's economic woes.