Brexit Party representatives to the European Parliament turned their backs when Europe’s anthem—Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’—began playing in Strasburg on Tuesday morning.
When Nigel Farage’s party remained seated while the rest of the assembly stood, parliament president Antonio Tajani noted it is polite to rise for another nation’s anthem.
One need not “share the views of the EU” to show “respect,” Tajani observed. Brexit MEPs then stood with their backs to the speaker.
But Farage told Sky News calling Europe a “nation” was “really disgraceful”: a “false creation” made “without asking anyone’s permission.”
Chief Labour MEP Richard Corbett highlighted international bodies like the Olympic Games and United Nations also have anthems.
He insisted the Liberal Democrats’ yellow ‘B******* to Brexit’ shirts were far more disrespectful to parliament than his party’s “very silent protest.”
Critics denounced the Brexit Party’s move as an "embarrassingly childish" stunt. They argue refusing to participate in European institutions or declining their EU-issued paychecks would be better forms of dissent.
However, others say disregarding anthems is a legitimate—and common—way of signifying opposition, and the right to non-violent protest must be protected.
Should Brexit MEPs have turned their backs on the European anthem?