Thursday 23 March 2017

Bizarre scenes as Bob Geldof clashes with Nigel Farage over Brexit flotilla in 'battle for the Thames'

Bob Geldof onboard the flotilla
Bob Geldof onboard the flotilla
Nigel Farage's Brexit flotilla is met by rival boats near Tower Bridge Getty Images

Boats carrying the Ukip leader Nigel Farage and the prominent Remain supporter Sir Bob Geldof have clashed in a bizarre "battle for the Thames" ahead of the EU referendum.

Nigel Farage proclaimed the flotilla of up to 60 vessels, which passed under London's Tower Bridge at around 10am, was "not a celebration or a party but a full-throttled protest".

Nigel Farage's Brexit flotilla is met by rival boats near Tower Bridge Getty Images
Nigel Farage's Brexit flotilla is met by rival boats near Tower Bridge Getty Images

Geldof was joined by Rachel Johnson, sister of former London mayor Boris and a prominent Remain campaigner, on a boat blasting out the song "In With The In Crowd" on a large on-board sound system.

And video from the Thames showed a number of rubber speedboats bearing large "In" banners weaving in and out of the Brexit fleet.

The protest and counter-protest clashed as Mr Farage's larger flotilla passed by Parliament - though there were no reports of actual violence beyond rumours a Remain craft was targeted with water from a fishing boat's hose.

Fishing was the issue at the heart of Wednesday's bizarre "battle", with Mr Farage telling the Press Association EU membership had "destroyed our industry".

Speaking eight days before the referendum, he said: "The governing principle of the common fisheries policy is that of 'equal access to a common resource'.

"Fish stock that should be within the UK's internationally-recognised territorial waters is now shared with our European partners.

"This has led to a 60 per cent drop in oversized landings and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in our industry."

Jobs were also being lost in the charter angling fleet due to new EU regulations on recreational sea angling, said the Ukip leader, who said that Norway, outside theEU, was able to control stocks up to 200 miles off its shores and had a "booming" commercial fishing and angling industry.

"EU membership has destroyed our industry," said Mr Farage. "Today's flotilla is not a celebration or a party but a full-throttled protest. We want our waters back."

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