Eurosceptics reacted with dismay on Friday after the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize, saying the award would be brought into disrepute.
European Parliament member Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, said the 27-nation bloc was creating “violence and division” in eurozone nations like Spain and Greece.
“The awarding of this prize to the EU brings it into disrepute,” Farage said. “Rather than bring peace and harmony, the EU will cause insurgency and violence.”
He added: “Spain is on the verge of a bailout, with senior military figures warning that the army may have to intervene in Catalonia.
“In Greece people are starving and abandoning their children through desperate poverty and never a week goes by that we don’t see riots and protests in capital cities against the troika and the economic prison they have imposed.”
Farage is a controversial figure, having been fined for calling EU President Herman Van Rompuy a “damp rag” and making a Nazi jibe over German policy towards bailed-out Greece.
Lawmaker John Redwood, a leading eurosceptic member of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party, was equally scathing.
“I am delighted that Western Europe has been at peace since 1945 but I think it is surprising that the EU should get the credit when democratic Germany and democratic France never had any intention of fighting each other (in recent years),” he said.
Redwood said it was “quite wrong” for the EU to get the Nobel.
“It is one of the most misleading arguments of all for the EU, which is clearly causing enormous rancour and dispute within and between countries at the moment. It is certainly not helping relations with Greece at the moment,” he said.
There was no immediate reaction from Cameron or the Foreign Office. A spokeswoman for the prime minister’s Downing Street office told AFP they had no plans to make any statement.
Cameron faces growing pressure to call a referendum on Britain’s troubled relationship with the EU. Many in his party want looser ties or a complete pullout, especially amid the eurozone debt crisis.