What will happen when Nigel Farage and Emmanuel Macron meet for lunch?
Former UKIP leader promises to ‘ruin’ French president’s meal at European Parliament gala dinner
Arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage and the EU’s new leading man Emmanuel Macron will meet today following the French president’s first speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Farage has been invited to join Macron at a gala lunch, in the former UKIP’s role as leader of the parliament’s Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group.
Other attendees will include the European Parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani, and Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt.
During his flagship speech, Macron called for closer integration in the European Union following Brexit and implored the European Parliament to act on his ambitious proposals. “I do not want to be part of a generation of sleepwalkers,” he said.
Warning against complacency, Macron continued: “There is a fascination with the illiberal and that is growing all the time. In this world and in these difficult times, European democracy is our best chance.”
Farage has other ideas, however, telling The Daily Telegraph that he would challenge Macron over his plans. “I plan on ruining his lunch,” Farage said.
In addition to what the Daily Express calls his “scathing threat”, Farage warned the president to “reevaluate” his vision for the EU ahead of his speech.
Farage said: “When you’re in an EU centralist hole, stop digging. Macron obviously doesn’t yet understand that the future of Europe will be Eurosceptic.
“Recent elections in Hungary, Italy and the Czech Republic have shown that the peoples of Europe are sick of Brussels control and want to take their law-making powers back to the nation state.
“Clearly, it’s time to reevaluate, Mr Macron.”
The French leader’s speech marked the beginning of a big diplomacy push. Macron travels to Berlin on Thursday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, before flying to Washington D.C. on Sunday night for a state visit to the US.
But his ambitious plans to reform Europe have already hit the buffers, argues Politico’s Pierre Briancon.
“Remaking the eurozone will prove much harder than planned,” Briancon says. Macron’s ideas to reform the European Parliament “are bogged down in the sands of EU backroom dealings”, he adds, while his audacious plans “to create a pan-European party on the model of his own La Republique en Marche (LREM) have been put on hold”.