“Laughter is the last refuge of the stupid,” Nigel Farage was told after ridiculing the EU’s role in defeating Nazism.
The stinging rebuke was delivered as a political debate descended into a slanging match in the European Parliament.
It began when another British MEP, Syed Kamall, courted howls of contempt for saying Nazism was a strain of socialism.
The row prompted parliament president Antonio Tajani to say: “I do not think that anyone in this room is nostalgic about Nazi or Soviet dictatorships or the horrific and devastating systems that have left deep wounds in Europe.
“Thank god these two dictatorships have been banished thanks to the European Union,” added the Italian politician.
Tajani’s comments drew smatterings of applause, which then gave way to laughter from Farage in the front row.
“It’s really not a laughing matter, laughter is the last refuge of the stupid,” Tajani said, staring fiercely in Farage’s direction for at least 15 seconds.
Farage was not to be silenced, however.
“We do seem this morning to be struggling a little bit with our history,” he said. “To claim, Mr Tajani, that the European Union brought about the downfall of Nazism and Soviet communism isn’t only laughable, it is very ungracious and deeply insulting to the United States of America, who made massive sacrifices so that Europe could be free, twice in the 20th century.
“You can claim what you want for the European Union, but please do not rewrite history,” he added.