Our Daily Brexit: Boat Leave! Farage fights off Bob Geldof in Battle of the Thames

A flotilla of fishing vessels campaigning to leave the European Union sails up the river Thames in London, Britain June 15, 2016. © Stefan Wermuth
UKIP leader Nigel Farage clashed with rock star and activist Bob Geldof on the River Thames on Wednesday in a bizarre publicity stunt featuring a pro-Leave flotilla. RT takes a closer look at the Battle Over Brexit.

In what could well be the strangest day yet in the EU referendum campaign, Leave campaigners sailed a small fleet of boats flying Union Jack flags up the River Thames to Parliament in protest against Brussels’ fishing regulations.

However the long-planned flotilla was ambushed in Westminster by Remain campaigners, led by the swashbuckling former Boom Town Rats lead singer Sir Bob Geldof.

Any rational debate that existed soon degenerated into insults, culminating in a pro-Brexit fishing boat allegedly trying to turn its hose on a Remain dinghy.

Farage fights off Geldof in nautical skirmish

Any hope of the UKIP pro-Brexit flotilla from Tower Bridge to Westminster taking place in peace vanished the moment Geldof arrived on the scene.

Standing astride a passenger ferry seemingly commandeered for the day’s protest, the Irish singer bellowed pro-Remain messages through a megaphone at the pro-Brexit armada.

A war of words erupted over the Thames’ choppy waters as both Remain and Leave campaigners fought over the impact of EU regulation on Britain’s fishing industry.

Farage argues the EU has had a detrimental impact on Britain’s fisheries, while pro-Remain campaigners argued Britain’s fishing industry gets the best deal of any member state.

The debate arguably reached its pinnacle when Geldof gave Farage the ‘w*nker’ sign.

When Telegraph journalist Michael Deacon asked Farage what he thought of Geldof’s display, he replied: “I don't want to be dragged into the gutter by Mr Geldof.

Brexit flotilla’s trawler implicated in major fraud

The flagship of Farage’s pro-Leave armada was involved in a £63 million (US$90 million) fishing fraud scandal, according to Greenpeace UK.

The ‘Christina S’ was caught up in the so-called ‘black fish’ scam, when more than a dozen fishermen based in Scotland were found guilty of devising a method to land fish caught outside EU quotas.

Ernest Simpson, a part-owner of the trawler, and his son Allan were given a massive £130,000 in total fines after being caught landing undeclared fish in Peterhead, Scotland.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven accused Farage of “cynically exploiting” the “legitimate anger” of British fishermen.

The root of the problem lies in London, not Brussels. Quitting the EU will only condemn the industry to years of wrangling over new fisheries agreements, with no guarantee of a better deal for fishers or stronger protections for our seas,” he said.

The birds and the bees back Remain

Britain’s birds and bees would both benefit from staying in the EU, environmental campaigners have claimed.

Bees and other pollinating insects provide a vital role in the natural food production system.

However new pesticides containing neonicotinoids have been accused of killing off bees, threatening the entire eco-system.

Friends of the Earth and insect conservation charity Buglife argue EU regulations keep bee-harming chemicals out of Europe.

The UK’s largest bird conservation charity has also backed the Remain campaign, calling a vote to stay in the “safer option.”

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) argues that cross-border cooperation and international standards are essential for enabling Britain’s wildlife to thrive.

The UK’s membership of the EU has benefited nature and the environment in ways that would be hard to replicate if we left,” RSPBC chief executive Mike Clark said.