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Tuesday, 28 June 2016
Brexit vote: Bitter exchanges in EU parliament debate
The European Parliament's first debate on the UK's vote to leave has been marked by bitter exchanges.
A central figure in the Leave campaign, UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, was booed, called a liar and accused of using "Nazi propaganda".
Mr Farage shot back that the EU itself was "in denial".
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived in Brussels for his first talks with leaders of the other 27 EU states since Thursday's referendum.
"I'll be explaining that Britain will be leaving the European Union but I want that process to be as constructive as possible," he told reporters before going in to meet his counterparts.
An EU official close to the talks told BBC News the mood was "very, very serious" and a question mark hung over the UK's next presidency of the EU, due to begin in the second half of next year.
"The leaders are very interested in hearing the UK's timeline but everyone knows Cameron won't trigger Article 50 [the first formal step in the withdrawal procedure]," the source added.
The announcement of Mr Cameron's replacement as leader of the Conservative Party, and thus prime minister, is not due now until 9 September, with 12:00 BST Thursday as the deadline for nominations.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned against delay in starting the exit process: "I don't think we should see any shadow-boxing or any cat-and-mouse games. It is clear what the British people want and we should act accordingly."
Jeers, insults and applause, by Bethany Bell, BBC News, Brussels
This was a stormy and deeply emotional debate, with accusations and counter-accusations of lying.
Britain's vote to leave the EU has divided and shaken the European Parliament. This is a watershed moment.
Many MEPs expressed sadness at losing the UK. There was a standing ovation for the UK's outgoing Commissioner, Lord Hill.
But there was also a strong sense of defiance, as well as concern for the future. There were calls for unity, for reform, and the need to connect to Europe's citizens.
For the Eurosceptic groups, this was a sweet moment of victory. Something that once appeared almost impossible has become reality.
Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People's Party group told Mr Farage: "Stop this populist Brussels bashing."
Hitting back, Mr Farage told parliament that they were "in denial".
He said hardly any of the MEPs had ever done a proper job in their lives, or created one.
"We now offer a beacon of hope to democrats across the European continent," he said. "The UK will not be the last member state to leave the EU."
Brexit in Brussels: quotes from Tuesday's debate
"I hope the outcome of the referendum will work as a wake-up call for Europe":Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
"The fact that fragmentation is no longer unthinkable, should gravely concern us all": Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert
"Please, remember this: Scotland did not let you down. Please, I beg you, do not let Scotland down now": Scottish MEP Alyn Smith
"The European Union cannot become a hostage to the internal party politics of the [British] Conservatives": Italian MEP Gianni Pittella
"Only triggering Article 50 immediately can stop this - 27 member states should not wait for a disorientated Tory party to get its act together": Belgian MEP, and leader of EU Liberal group Guy Verhofstadt
"We in the North of Ireland are not bound by the UK vote... The last thing the people of Northern Ireland need is a new border with 27 member states": UK MEP Martina Anderson (Sinn Fein)