Nigel Farage is facing a barrage of criticism after revealing he would not give up his taxpayer-funded EU pension if eligible. The former Ukip leader, who led the campaign for the UK to leave the EU, has been called a hypocrite for his stance.
Farage appeared on the BBC's Andrew Marr show Sunday (3 December) morning and told live TV viewers he would take the yearly £73,000 pension if he could. "Why should my family and others suffer even more?" he asked.
The 53-year-old was responding to a Sunday Times story that estimated he will be entitled to the pension in 10 years' time.
According to the Evening Standard, it is believed the pensions could be part-funded by Britain's estimated £50bn "divorce bill" if the Brexit deal moves forward.
When asked by Marr if he would accept the money, Farage responded: "Of course I would take it. I have said that right from day one. Why should my family and others suffer even more?"
Farage added that he doubted he would ever see that money. "Given the arbitrary way the European Union behaves in terms of money, I would be very surprised if I get any of it. I don't think it will even occur," he said.
But the MEP was readily criticised by fellow politicians and others on social media.
"Nigel Farage is a shameless hypocrite," Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said. "He rails against the so-called EU gravy train, but is happy to cash in when it suits him.
"No doubt he also secretly backs the £50bn Brexit divorce bill that includes money to pay for his EU pension," Brake added.
Labour MP David Lammy said: "Apparently [Farage] also hates the EU so much he'll still draw his 70 grand+ a year pension."
Those on Twitter were equally unforgiving.
"Farage's EU pension nearly 3x UK average wage. Don't object to taking it but Farage is a Brexit elite professional politician riding 1st class on a gravy train he denounces," tweeted Daily Mirror associate editor Kevin Maguire.
Laura C wrote: "Farage of #marr refuses to give up his 73K EU pension because 'why should my family suffer?' I've run out of printable words to express my deep disgust for this utterly repugnant human being."
Former MEP for the East Midlands, Roger Helmer, did come to Farage's defence. "Why on earth should Nigel Farage give up his pension?
"It was accrued legitimately at a time when the UK was an EU member-state in good standing, and a major net contributor. It is the duty of the EU to pay it."