Nigel Farage was heckled by shouts and cries of disbelief for launching an “unacceptable” attack on MEPs on Wednesday.
The ex-Ukip leader was forced to retract his criticism, correcting it with one that left his successor, Paul Nuttall, smirking.
Farage blasted Brussels bosses for using Gibraltar as a bargaining chip in negotiations between the EU and Britain and branded them “the mafia”.
“You’ve shown yourself with these demands to be vindictive, to be nasty,” he raged. “All I can say is thank goodness we are leaving.”
“You are behaving like the mafia, you think we’re a hostage. We’re not, we’re free to go. We’re free to go.”
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who is also an MEP for Central Italy, quickly brought Farage to silence.
“I’m trying to give you the chance to speak and say everything you want to say, but if you are talking about the mafia, you are saying that Parliament are acting like the mafia,” Tajani said.
“As far as I am concerned that’s unacceptable.”
MEPs, including lead Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, clapped loudly as Farage was admonished.
Undeterred, Farage stood again, and said: “I do understand national sensitivities, I’ll change it to gangsters, alright? And that is how we are being treated.”
Nuttall, sitting one row behind Farage, was seen smirking at MEPs’ anger.
Later in his speech, Farage predicted that many more EU countries would follow Britain and begin pulling out of the Union.
He said: “What you’re saying is that you want to put the interests of the European Union above that of your citizens and your companies and if you continue with that route it won’t just be the United Kingdom that triggers article 50, there will be many more to come.”