The European Parliament has censored its own television coverage to avoid showing a serious protest in the debating chamber in Strasbourg today.
A group of about 80 Eurosceptic MEPs protested loudly as the Charter of Fundamental Rights was signed, with the result that a huge section of UK sovereignty has been swallowed up by the EU.
As the demonstration started, TV cameras immediately killed all sound so that none of the protest could be heard and the cameras stayed away resolutely from the large block of protesters.
At one stage, The President of the Parliament, Hans Gert Pottering, asked them to leave the chamber. They refused.
The protest continued during speech by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. However as he talked of “greater democracy for Europe” the TV pictures told a different story.
Mr Pottering shouted at the protesters accusing them of being “anti-democratic because they will not let our guests speak.” He was met with cries of “Let the people speak.”
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, one of the prime movers of the protest, said: “This is the new EU in action, showing the world a united face as they steamroll towards their own superstate while totally refusing to allow anyone to see a different point of view.”
Furious at the protests, some MEPs resorted to rough tactics and one member of the European People’s Party dragged a female observer from the Independence and Democracy Group out of the chamber and demanded her camera, which showed footage of the protest.
“The high point of this hypocrisy surely came at the end, when MEPs were invited to stand to listen to ‘The European Anthem’,” said Mr Farage.
“This, of course, is the anthem which is supposed to have disappeared. To their everlasting shame, British MEPs from the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties stood ramrod-straight to grant this piece of music national anthem status.”
Mr Farage added: “Fortunately, cameras from the BBC and ITV were there, so at least there is a chance that people in Britain can actually see for themselves how this European Union stifles debate and refuses to allow legitimate political protest.”