Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

EU president Van Rompuy 'pities' Farage for tirade

Nigel Farage MEP, 24 Feb 10 (TV grab)
Mr Farage is a stern critic of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, now in force

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has said he pities Nigel Farage, the British MEP who called him a "damp rag" last month.

Mr Van Rompuy said his popularity had soared in Belgium, following the tirade from the Eurosceptic Mr Farage.

"I found it so ridiculous that I was not even really angry... I feel pity for that kind of behaviour and that kind of man, that's all," he said.

Mr Van Rompuy said voters appreciated politicians who kept their cool.

Mr Farage, of the UK Independence Party, compared the former Belgian prime minister to a "low-grade bank clerk" and accused him of being a "quiet assassin of European democracy and of European nation states".

He also referred to Belgium as a "non-country".

President of European Council, Herman Van Rompuy
Mr Van Rompuy has a reputation in the EU as a quiet consensus-builder

Mr Van Rompuy told the BBC he never got angry.

"When I was in the Belgian parliament as prime minister, if people said nasty things or insulted me I stayed very calm and that was very well received by the public," he said.

"I can assure you that I am now at the height of my popularity in Flanders, after the incident in the European Parliament... A lot of people feel themselves confident when they are governed by people who don't get nervous and angry at every incident."

Earlier Mr Van Rompuy told the Flemish broadcaster VRT that he had reacted "like the British at their best, phlegmatically".

In his writings, he has quoted the saying "Forgive your enemies, but don't forget their names," adding that it is one he has applied in practice.

In the case of Mr Farage's outburst, he said, the question of forgiveness did not arise, because it had not deeply affected him.

Mr Farage was reprimanded by the European Parliament president for his "insulting" tirade and was fined just under 3,000 euros (£2,700) after refusing to apologise for it.


Nigel Farage: "You have all the charisma of a damp rag"

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific