HMS Farage sailed up the Thames yesterday, leading a flotilla of fishing boats in a protest against the European Union’s impact on the industry. The Brexiteer’s stunt was almost blown out the water, however, by the arrival of a salvo from the decks of an Irish destroyer, The Geldof . A 30-strong fleet comprising 200 fishermen and assorted Brexit campaigners had set sail from Ramsgate in Kent at 5am aiming to reach Westminster in time for prime minister’s questions. On the flagship the bar was open by 11.30am and Ukip supporters were relaxing on Union Jack deckchairs.
One day, years from now, when I’m sitting in my armchair beside the fire, my son will come up to me and ask, “Daddy… what did you do in the EU referendum?” And I’ll put down my newspaper, remove the pipe from my mouth, and I’ll say, “Well, son. I went on a boozed-up boat trip down the Thames with Nigel Farage while men from Ukip shouted ‘Get a job!’ at Bob Geldof as he flicked V-signs at them from a pleasure cruiser and a load of Scottish fishermen squirted water at rival campaigners in a dinghy and Members of Parliament gazed in disbelief from the Commons terrace and 100 people on a bridge sang Rule Britannia.” They say it’s difficult to engage the young in politics. But I reckon that story should help spark their interest.
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”. 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.
When covering the news on a day-to-day basis, or even when political campaigning, it is easy to move from one event to the next, rarely ever reflecting on what you’ve just witnessed. But if you had told me yesterday that this morning I would have been in the midst of naval warfare on the Thames, having abused hurled at me by Sir Bob Geldof, I would have told you there was more likelihood of me voting ‘Remain’ on EU referendum day.
Labour party activists have walked off Bob Geldof’s anti-Brexit boat in “disgust”, “apologis[ing]” for “jeering at fisherman worried about their livelihoods”. Mr. Geldof, the musician and political campaigner, shouted insults over a loud speaker and was photographed swearing at the fishermen in today’s flotilla. UKIP leader Nigel Farage called the protest “disgusting, rich people laughing at poor people… effectively laughing and working class communities being destroyed.”
The campaigns for the European Union referendum took a turn for the bizarre when a flotilla of boats from both sides clashed on the River Thames. Nigel Farage and Leave supporters joined trawlers sailing past Parliament in a protest over EU fishing policies. Meanwhile Bob Geldof – on one of the Remain boats – used a loudspeaker to declare that the UKIP leader should be “ashamed of himself” and labelled him a “fraud”. The Brexit vessels – mostly small fishing boats – blasted their foghorns as they passed Tower Bridge. But pro-EU boats headed out to intercept the flotilla, ‘In’ flags fluttering and pumping out songs such as In With The In Crowd and Chicago’s If You Leave Me Now.
A LEADING economist who was a senior advisor to the European Commission, has switched from the Remain camp to Leave over his fears of the economic consequences of staying in the EU. Professor Brian Sturgess, the Managing Editor of World Economics has also expressed his “disgust” over the Project Fear campaign waged by Downing Street and the Remain campaign to persuade voters not to back Leave. In a damning analysis, Professor Sturgess has warned that his monthly analysis of currencies has highlighted that the eurozone is on the point of collapse.
Senior Conservatives have accused the Bank of England and the Treasury of “peddling phoney forecasts” to scare people into voting to stay in the EU. Former chancellors Lord Lamont and Lord Lawson and ex-Tory leaders Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Howard said “startling dishonesty” had been displayed. They said George Osborne’s warning of spending cuts and tax rises after a Leave vote was “born of desperation”. Remain dismissed “yet more fantasy economics from the Leave campaign”.
Around 60 Conservative MPs have pledged to vote down their party’s own budget if Britain left the EU – as Tory tumoil over Europe deepens. George Osborne last night warned that after Brexit he would have to raise the basic income tax by 2 per cent, raise the higher rate by 3 per cent, and inheritance tax by 5 per cent. He also pledged £2.5bn cuts to the NHS budget, defence spending reductions of £1.2bn, and education cuts of £1.15bn. The Chancellor said the budget, based off calculations by the Institute for Fiscal Studies about the impact of Brexit, was necessary to plug a “black hole” in the public finances that would open up.
More than 60 Tory MPs have vowed to reject George Osborne’s brutal ‘Brexit budget’ in a dramatic escalation of the party’s EU war. The Chancellor today warned he could hike income tax from 20% to 22% and slash £2.5bn from the NHS if Britain votes Leave next Thursday. But just hours after his announcement 65 of his own MPs have vowed to vote against such a plan in Parliament – and say it would make Mr Osborne’s position ‘untenable’. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also said he would fight an NHS-cutting budget, meaning it would not have the support of the Commons. The MPs, whose names were put together by the Vote Leave campaign, include ex-Cabinet minister and welfare slasher Iain Duncan Smith.
GEORGE Osborne was declared “finished” as Chancellor last night in an angry backlash at his £30billion “tax and axe” threat. Furious Tory MPs said his credibility heading the Treasury had been “destroyed” by his plan to impose punishing tax hikes and spending cuts if voters decide to quit the EU next week. Sixty-five Tory MPs signed a joint statement opposing Mr Osborne’s plans for a Brexit emergency Budget of swingeing austerity measures, effectively killing any prospect of getting such a package through the Commons. The statement said: “If he were to proceed with these proposals, the Chancellor’s position would become untenable.”
A REMAIN MP endured a car crash interview as he desperately tried to defend George Osborne’s much-derided “Brexit budget”. Tory MP Ed Vaizey, who campaigns for Remain, failed to answer a series of questions during a series of tense clashes with Andrew Neil on BBC’s The Daily Politics. Mr Vaizey was forced to admit he was “sorry” and that he sounded “like a clichéd politician”. Mr Neil repeatedly grilled Mr Vaizey about the Chancellor’s hypocritical “punishment budget”.
Nigel Farage paved the way for a role in Boris Johnson ’s post-Brexit government tonight. The Ukip leader repeatedly refused to deny he would accept a job in a Tory administration led by Mr Johnson, if Britain votes out at the EU referendum and David Cameron is forced to quit. Source suggested he had been offered a place in the Lords to avoid a by-election in Tory-held South Thanet, which is at the centre of a election expenses probe. Channel 4 News’ Michael Crick tweeted: “Farage friend says he’s been approached by Boris camp about job in Johnson govt & place in Lords to avoid fighting possible Thanet by-elect.
DAVID Cameron was last night urged to release full details of Britain’s involvement in talks about Turkey joining the EU. Senior figures in the Vote Leave campaign for an EU exit wrote to the Prime Minister to call for a full statement on the secretive negotiations, which could lead to more than 70million Turkish citizens getting the right to live anywhere in the bloc including Britain. The letter came after Downing Street caved in and abandoned an attempt to stop a new phase in talks between the EU and the Turkish government. “With a week to go before the public cast their votes on 23rd June, it is essential that voters are fully informed about Turkish accession to the EU,” the letter said.
French riot police have fired tear gas and baton-charged crowds of baying England fans in Lille where 400 Russian ‘ultras’ have reportedly vowed to attack them. Hundreds of fans surged from a pub where they had been chanting ‘we hate Russia’ before running through Lille city centre yesterday. Officers made 36 arrests during violent scenes that unfolded in the hours after Russia were beaten 2-1 by Slovakia at the city’s Métropole stadium. Witnesses said they saw paramedics giving one fan CPR – though the supporter’s nationality is not known and it is unclear how he was injured. Another fan was reportedly knocked to the ground before his head was stamped on while 16 more people were hospitalised in hours of pitched battles. Talksport commentator and ex-footballer Stan Collymore was among those caught up in the tear gas amid chaotic scenes in the northern French city. It comes as it emerged a ‘really violent’ fight between up to 15 England and Wales fans had broken out on a train from Calais to Lille – a day before the teams are due to meet in their second game of Euro 2016.
Squeezed in among storage boxes, another lorry load of migrants sneak into Britain. The 11 stowaways – three of them children – were intercepted by police in east London yesterday. Asked where they were from, they replied: ‘Europe.’ The dramatic pictures emerged as the Tories were accused of being in referendum chaos over border controls. George Osborne insisted there would be no change to European Union rules on freedom of movement. But only hours later Theresa May declared further reform was needed. Brexit campaigners said the Home Secretary had blown a huge hole in the case to Remain by effectively admitting the Government’s renegotiation with Brussels was inadequate. Under the free movement edict, 500million EU citizens enjoy free access to the UK. This will continue if Britain votes to Remain on June 23. Mr Osborne faces open revolt from Tory MPs for unveiling a so-called ’emergency Budget’ that he claimed would be needed in the event of a vote to Leave.