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Brexit stage left! Nigel Farage on leaving Brussels: 'I'll miss being the pantomime villain'

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Brexit architect Nigel Farage has told Euronews he will miss being the pantomime villain when he quits the European Parliament this week.

Farage, who was first elected as an MEP more than two decades ago, was one of the driving forces behind the UK's referendum vote to quit the EU.

He will make his final appearance in Brussels with the UK set to formally leave the bloc at midnight CET on Friday evening.

'I couldn't be more pleased'

"I will miss the drama, I will miss the theatre," Farage told Euronews. "I will miss being the pantomime villain.

"When I get up to speak and I have 500 people start booing or jeering.

"I have been for many of the years here right at the centre, up close and personal with Mr Barroso, Mr Juncker, Martin Schulz, Guy Verhofstadt and so that side of it, of course, I'm going to miss.

"But politically I arrived here in the 1990s saying we were going to get Britain out of the European Union and everyone thought I was bonkers. And do you know what? It's happening. From a political perspective, I could not be more pleased."

Farage quit the Conservative Party in 1992 in protest of the signing of Maastricht Treaty and formed the UK Independence Party with a firm agenda of getting the UK out of the EU. In 1999 he was elected to the European Parliament for the first of five terms.

He was able to push the UKIP party from the fringes of British politics to centre stage and with it his Eurosceptic agenda.

'Hostility was extraordinary'

Farage was a central figure behind the vote leave campaign in the 2016 referendum. He was accused of fearmongering and promoting xenophobic attitudes with a controversial 'Breaking Point' billboard, which showed a stream of immigrants at the border of the EU. The UK voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%.

He claimed the atmosphere in Brussels immediately after the referendum vote was hostile.

"I tell you what, it has been interesting in the last couple of days," said Farage. "After the referendum the hostility here was extraordinary. I mean people shouting in the corridors, people threatening to hit me, it was really nasty.

"This week there is a complete acceptance that Britain is going, that there isn't going to be a second referendum. They have kind of attuned themselves to that.

"And everyone's been really very nice. Some said 'good luck with Brexit', others have said 'You'll be back because it won't work' but a lot have said 'oh this place is going to be so boring without you', so I think they will miss me."

'I hope Brexit completely reshapes EU'

In 2019 Farage launched the Brexit Party, which targeted anti-establishment voters and those disillusioned with the slow progress of negotiations with Brussels. It topped the polls in that year's European Parliament elections.

It also decided not to stand candidates in some seats during the UK's general election in December, widely seen as helping the pro-Brexit Conservative Party gain a thumping majority.

Looking to the future, Farage spoke of impact he believes Brexit has had on the European Union and the active role he believes the UK can play going forward.

"I am very much hoping that what Brexit does is to actually completely reshape the European project,” he said.

“We can change the European Union away from the centralised model, away from the European Commission, towards a cooperative structure in Europe.

"And do you know what? I'd want the UK to play a full part in it."