Former Brexit leader Nigel Farage has long reveled in outraging the European Parliament with rants from the chamber floor: He notoriously once accused then-EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy of having “all the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk.”
But Labour MEP Seb Dance got his own back on Feb. 1 in an even cheekier manner, subverting a Farage monologue in defense of US president Donald Trump by sitting behind him with a sign saying, “He’s lying to you.”
Farage is perhaps Trump’s biggest backer in Western Europe. At the time of Dance’s protest, he was arguing in favor of the US president’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations. A clip seems to show Dance being told by an official to take down his sign shortly after brandishing it.
Although the message seemed puerile, Dance said he had a more strategic aim: “Nuanced language” hasn’t gotten through to hard-right voters and Farage’s speeches are often shown “in isolation on social media,” meaning that viewers never see the context of other MEPs’ opposition. “So I protested in the only way I knew how at that point, which was to grab a piece of paper, write a very simple message on it and sit behind Nigel Farage during his usual diatribe.”
The unusual incident parallels US Republican congressman Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” at then-president Barack Obama during a 2009 speech on healthcare to the US Congress. (Wilson’s claim was later debunked.)