Watching Ann Widdecombe’s debut in Strasbourg from the naughty seats was a sight to behold

Watching Ann Widdecombe’s debut in Strasbourg from the naughty seats was a sight to behold

We Brexit Party MEPs may have turned our backs on the European Union’s self-proclaimed national anthem in Strasbourg last week, but no-one expected European Council President, Donald Tusk, to deliver the coup de grace two days later.

After weeks of internecine wrangling and secret deal-making, Mr Tusk swept into the Parliament chamber to laud the European Council’s nominations for Presidents of the European Commission, European Council and European Central Bank – and Foreign Policy Chief – announced just the day before. They include Jean-Claude Juncker’s replacement, Ursula von der Leyen, who wasn’t even on the list for the role.

It didn’t start well. MEPs from every political group, representing every part of Europe, complained bitterly about the Council’s lack of democratic accountability and process in making the appointments. Not a single speech supported the stitch-up, but not a single speaker had any idea what to do about it.

As the minutes turned to hours, the can got kicked further and further down the road. But up in the naughty seats where we Brexiteers have been exiled, we knew that it was time to launch our secret weapon.

Cue The Widdecombe, invented in Bath but modified over many years in Westminster.

It was carnage. In just 90 seconds, all thoughts of whether to have the Riesling or Chablis with lunch were blown to bits. The whole place erupted as The Widdecombe’s high, wavering sonic boom and relentless jabbing cut to the quick.

Frantic counter-measures of cat-calls and whistles were swept aside. In desperation, the Parliament President tried to call time. But too late, The Widdecombe went off with ‘Wir gehen! Nous allons!’ and just in case you weren’t entirely sure, ‘We’re Off!!’

It was a truly inspiring sight. And as the dust settled, our Liberal Democrat MEP colleagues inflicted further damage, thanking President Tusk for his patience with ‘our government and national parliament.’ Friendly fire is the worst. Having come through The Widdecombe, no-one wanted to face The Farage.

And what about Mr Tusk, who had taken heavy flak from the Parliament over the European Council’s undemocratic actions for more than two hours? Impenetrable and untouched, he left the Chamber saying simply that he was going to ‘reserve my comment’. He knew that the European Council had put the knife into the Parliament’s democratic hopes days before. Now, what about that Riesling?