Brexit Party MEPs turn backs on European anthem amid chaos in Strasbourg

Brexit Party MEPs turned their backs during a rendition of Ode To Joy in the European Parliament as chaotic scenes marked the opening day of the new legislature in Strasbourg.

Leader Nigel Farage and newly elected candidates including Ann Widdecombe and Annunziata Rees-Mogg performed the protest as representatives gathered for the first session since May's European elections.

Ukip's MEPs – then led by Mr Farage – performed the same political stand at the start of the session in 2014.

Paul Nuttall, the party's deputy leader at the time, said it was intended to send a message that they did not "recognise or respect the EU flag or anthem".

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British MEPs Brexit Party turn their backs during the European anthem ahead of the inaugural session at the European Parliament on July 2 , 2019 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Newly elected MEPs, wearing t-shirts with an inscription against the Brexit, pose for a picture before the inaugural session at the European Parliament on July 2 , 2019 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - The 751-seat parliament is more fragmented than ever after a vote in May that saw solid gains by the liberals and Greens as well as the far right and eurosceptics. With Brexit delayed until as late as October 31, the deep political divisions in Britain were on full display in the eastern French city as 73 British MEPs arrived to parliament. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Newly elected French MEP Nathalie Loiseau (C) arrives for the inaugural European Parliament session at the European Parliament on July 2, 2019 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - The 751-seat parliament is more fragmented than ever after a vote in May that saw solid gains by the liberals and Greens as well as the far right and eurosceptics. With Brexit delayed until as late as October 31, the deep political divisions in Britain were on full display in the eastern French city as 73 British MEPs arrived to parliament. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
British MEPs Brexit Party turn their backs during the European anthem ahead of the inaugural session at the European Parliament on July 2 , 2019 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader, Brexit campaigner and member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage attends the inaugural session at the European Parliament on July 2 , 2019 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Italian PM and leader of the right-wing party Forza Italia Silvio Berlusconi (C) arrives for the inaugural European Parliament session at the European Parliament on July 2, 2019 in Strasbourg, eastern France. - The 751-seat parliament is more fragmented than ever after a vote in May that saw solid gains by the liberals and Greens as well as the far right and eurosceptics. With Brexit delayed until as late as October 31, the deep political divisions in Britain were on full display in the eastern French city as 73 British MEPs arrived to parliament. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A bailiff carries a European flag on the eve of the inaugural session of the European Parliament following European elections on July 1, 2019, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers of Eurocorps carry an European Union flag during the flag-raising ceremony on the eve of the inaugural session of new European Parliament on July 1, 2019 in front of Louise Weiss building (R), headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Strasbourg, 07/07/2019 - A demonstration by the Catalan population against elected MEPs who could not take office took place this morning in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. (Nuno Pinto Fernandes / Global Images/Sipa USA)
Soldiers of Eurocorps raise an European Union flag during the flag-raising ceremony on the eve of the inaugural session of new European Parliament on July 1, 2019 in front of Louise Weiss building (R), headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Others in the parliament refused to stand at all as the EU's anthem – composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1824 – was played by a jazz ensemble.

Reflecting the political divisions being felt over Brexit in the UK, Liberal Democrat MEPs took their seats wearing yellow "bollocks to Brexit" T-shirts.

The Brexit Party and Lib Dems – each with opposing views on leaving the EU – came first and second respectively in the EU polls.

Protests were also held against the decision to deny a seat to Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont and in defence of a German ship captain being held in Italy in a row over migrant rights.

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Nigel Farage and Ann Widdecombe in the European Parliament in Strasbourg (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

Tuesday marks the opening of the new five-year session of the parliament, though the length of the UK's involvement remains in doubt.

UK MEPs may sit in the parliament until the country formally leaves the EU.

A deadline of October 31 has currently been set for the UK to leave, though this could be extended if a deal is not found by then.

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