Saturday 24 September 2016

Geldof, Farage lead rival EU flotillas on the River Thames

David Hughes

Published 16/06/2016 | 02:30

Ukip leader Nigel Farage on board a boat taking part in a Fishing for Leave pro-Brexit
Ukip leader Nigel Farage on board a boat taking part in a Fishing for Leave pro-Brexit "flotilla" on the River Thames. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Bob Geldof led supporters of Britain staying in the EU as they sought to disrupt a ‘Leave’ flotilla led by Ukip’s Nigel Farage. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Nigel Farage and Bob Geldof engaged in a war of words as rival fleets of boats backing the Leave and Remain camps clashed on London's River Thames.

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The EU referendum contest took a bizarre turn as Mr Farage led a flotilla of vessels along the river in London in protest at the EU's fishing policies.

But the Fishing for Leave flotilla was met by rival boats backing a Remain vote, with Geldof branding the Ukip leader a "fraud".

Small inflatable boats flying flags backing the In campaign skimmed around the larger fishing vessels, with some Remain protesters given a soaking by hoses on the trawlers.

Geldof and his Remain supporters blasted out the song 'The In Crowd' from a large on-board sound system on their river cruise boat as they pulled alongside the vessel carrying Mr Farage.

Addressing Mr Farage over the PA system, Geldof said: "You are no fisherman's friend."

He said that while Mr Farage was on the European Parliament fisheries committee he attended just one out of 43 meetings.

"You are a fraud, Nigel. Go back down the river because you are up one without a canoe or a paddle."

Geldof said: "The In Crowd are here to say to Farage's fishy flotilla, 'Don't sink Britain'.

"The UK gets the second-biggest quota out of member states and has the biggest profit of any EU member state. Leaving Europe would be disastrous for our country, our economy, our public services and our fishing industry."

Speaking to reporters accompanying him on the Thames, Mr Farage branded the Geldof protest "just disgusting".

He said Geldof was "deeply ignorant about how the Common Fisheries Policy works", adding: "It ill befits multi-millionaires coming to drown out ordinary men and women from the fishing industry who have come to have a fair say."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a flagship in the pro-Brexit flotilla sailing up the Thames, The Christina S, was involved in one of the UK's largest-ever frauds involving illegal catches of fish.

Economy

In 2012, the skipper, Ernest Simpson (65) and his son Allan (43) were fined £65,000 (€82,000) each for illegally landing mackerel and herring worth a total of £2,031,501.

They also had to pay "proceeds of crime" confiscation orders of more than £360,000.

The pair were caught after a seven-year investigation prompted by suspicions that large profits in the fishing industry could not have been made legally, given EU fishing quotas that were in force at the time.

Judge Lord Turnbull, who presided over the case, branded it an "episode of shame" for the fishing industry.

Irish Independent

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