STRASBOURG (Reuters) - Nigel Farage, the outgoing leader of the UK Independence Party, said on Wednesday he would miss being the “pantomime villain” of the European Parliament after Brexit, but would stay on for now to see that Britain got a good trade deal.
“I shall miss it enormously. I’ve had an absolute whale of a time,” Farage told a news conference on Wednesday at the EU legislature in Strasbourg where he has sat for UKIP for 17 years, often facing jeers in the chamber for his attacks on the European Union.
“I shall miss the theater,” he said, two days after quitting as UKIP leader following the June 23 referendum vote for Brexit.
“On the personal level, I’ll miss being the pantomime villain. I’ve just so much enjoyed them all booing at me and shouting. It’s been wonderful. That part of it I’ll miss.”
He would also, he said, miss friendships, not only with other euroskeptics. He called on whoever succeeds David Cameron as British prime minister to speed the process by which Britain will withdraw from EU institutions by formally notifying its intentions under Article 50 of the EU treaty.
Some EU leaders are urging Britain to launch the process swiftly and start the clock ticking on a two-year countdown to Brexit.
Farage said he would work with other eurosceptic movements in Europe to aid their cause. He would remain in parliament to monitor Brexit negotiations and warned against London accepting the kind of trade deal that Norway has with the European Union.
Norwegians voted in 1994 against EU membership. Norway has mostly free access to EU markets, which Conservatives and UKIP want to retain for Britain, but it also accepts free immigration from the EU, which a new British government is likely to oppose.
EU leaders insist that full access to the single market will only be granted if Britain keeps its borders open to EU workers.
Writing by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels; editing by Ralph Boulton