Rival flotillas headed by Nigel Farage and Sir Bob Geldof clashed on the Thames today with the rock star facing criticism for yelling insults and making obscene gestures.
In the most bizarre scenes of the EU referendum so far, the Ukip leader took to the waves with dozens of fishing boats as he urged a vote to cut ties with Brussels next week.
But they were greeted by boats carrying Remain supporters including the rock star, and loud speakers blasting out the song ‘In With the In Crowd’.
The fleets chased each other along the river for several hours – while at one point hoses were deployed by the trawlers to try to settle the argument.
Sir Bob Geldof could be clearly seen making V signs and obscene gestures at the opposing flotilla as they motored past on the Thames
Large fishing boats pass under Tower Bridge as smaller speed boats race around them with the ‘IN’ signs getting in the way
Dozens of vessels passed under Tower Bridge, holding up traffic while it was raised, in what developed into a large flotilla
Sir Bob seemingly infuriated some pro-EU activists on his own vessel by flicking a V sign and making other rude signs at Mr Farage’s crew.
One passenger took to Twitter to make clear her displeasure, saying she was ‘disgusted’ at the insults against their opponents.
Bethany Pickering wrote: ‘Left Bob Geldof’s boat in disgust. Fishermen, the Labour Remain presence sincerely apologises.’
Geldof berated Mr Farage over a PA system as his vessel, the Sarpedon, pulled alongside the boat carrying the Ukip leader.
The Ukip leader and the rock star traded insults with each other in the shadow of Tower Bridge standing on top of their respective ships
Calling Mr Farage a ‘fraud’, 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.
In more than three years as a member of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, Mr Farage turned up for just one of 42 meetings, said the environmental group.
‘You are a fraud, Nigel. Go back down the river because you are up one without a canoe or a paddle.
‘Stop lying. This election is too important.’
Speaking to reporters on a boat on the Thames, Mr Farage branded the Geldof protest ‘just disgusting’.
He said: ‘These are communities that have been devastated. These are communities that no-one has listened to for years.
Calling Mr Farage a ‘fraud’, Geldof said: ‘You are no fisherman’s friend’ as he traded insults with the Ukip politician
Two leave supporters carry flags on top of a boat within the flotilla as they stand defiant in protest at the regulations of the EU
Mr Farage also had time for a friendly wave with his supporters as he stood all suited up on top of one of the larger boats
A Labour activist claimed to have left Geldof’s boat in disgust after he flicked a V sign and made other rude gestures at fishermen protesting against EU membership
‘They are here today, they have taken – some of them – several days out of their working week to come and make their protest, to say ‘look, we want to take back control of our seas, we want to get jobs back in this industry’.
‘To see multi-millionaires frankly mocking them is a pretty shameful sight.’
Speaking to reporters accompanying him on the Thames, Mr Farage branded the Geldof protest ‘just disgusting’.
He added that Geldof was ‘deeply ignorant about how the Common Fisheries Policy works’ and ‘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’.
Bob Geldof, dressed in jeans, a purple jacket, and wearing dark sunglasses, shouted at Mr Farage through loud speakers on his boat
Mr Farage was trolled by Remain supporters who made their way past him as he posed for photographs by the edge of his boat
Speaking to reporters accompanying him on the river , Mr Farage branded the Geldof protest ‘just disgusting’ as Geldof waved
Mr Farage said: ‘We used to protest against the establishment and now the establishment protests against us. We must be getting something right.’
He added: ‘The Common Fisheries Policy works on the principle of equal access to the common resource. What that means is that we have to share the fish in our waters with the rest of the European Union.
‘Sensible countries like Norway, the Faroes and Iceland do no such thing. These industries, these communities have been devastated now for decades and they have come here today to be heard.’
The flotilla, which involved around 30 vessels, passed Parliament as David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn engaged each other at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Pro-EU campaigners also unfurled a huge banner on a bridge as Mr Farage’s flotilla passed underneath the green structure
Rival boats in the Brexit and Remain flotillas clashed on the Thames today and insults were hurled back and forth between the two
Opposing the ‘vote leave’ signs of the Ukip leader Sir Bob unveiled his giant ‘IN’ signposts with his own team of supporters around him
The Prime Minister said the UK fishing industry had grown by around 20% thanks to Government reforms, and insisted it would be hit with tariffs on the sale of fish if Britain pulled out of the EU.
Mr Cameron spoke after Mr Corbyn criticised the Government for giving the majority of its fishing quota to large companies, urging people to ‘stop blaming Brussels’.
Fisherman Aaron Brown, from Ayrshire, accompanied Mr Farage on the protest voyage.
He said the industry and his community had been badly hit by the EU rules and added: ‘I hope my countrymen have the courage, like the men who went into the trenches, to say ‘we are going to be a free nation again and we are going to flourish great and free’.’
Despite the occasionally rowdy scenes on the water, a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman described the event as ‘good natured on both sides’.
Tory MP Johnny Mercer appeared less than impressed with Mr Farage’s expedition on the Thames today
The Port of London Authority (PLA) oversaw the vessels and spoke to Leave and Remain campaigners about excessive noise near HMS Belfast in the Pool of London.
Greenpeace accused Mr Farage of ‘cynical opportunism’, saying that as a Ukip MEP he had failed to vote on three major measures designed to fix flaws in the Common Fisheries Policy.
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: ‘When Nigel Farage had a chance to stand up for UK fishermen in Brussels, he bunked off. His no-show voting record proves he’s no fisherman’s friend but a cynical opportunist exploiting the harsh predicament of many fishermen for political gain.
‘What’s threatening the livelihoods of thousands of sustainable, family-run businesses is the grossly unfair division of fish quota overseen by successive UK governments. 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.’
A leave supporter waves a flag as she watches the flotilla pass from Westminster Bridge wearing a United Kingdom party hat
Mr Farage and Labour MP Kate Hoey appeared to be reenacting scenes from the film Titanic during the event in London
A pro-EU dinghy passes the Brexit flotilla on the Thames this morning as they docked up together by the river bank
Shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy said: ‘Our EU membership provides access to Europe’s fishing waters worth £100 million to the UK and British fishing boats are able to land and sell their catch in any EU country.
‘If we left the EU we would still want to trade with EU countries, negotiate access and quotas outside our own territory and share fishing rights for UK waters.
‘To protect fish stocks and the livelihoods that depend upon them, we need a European-wide collective approach. We cannot risk a return to the bad old days where fish stocks were declining so fast that there were species on the verge of extinction.’
The ‘Fishing for Leave’ grouping apparently turned their hoses on some of the Remain boats to settle the confrontation
The Ukip leader and his allies were demanding a return to the terms we had in the common market multiple decades ago
BACK BREXIT FOR A PAY RISE! TORY VETERAN JOHN REDWOOD CLAIMS ITS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW WHERE THE ECONOMY WILL BE IN 20 YEARS BUT FOR NOW WE’RE MUCH BETTER OFF OUT
Tory veteran John Redwood, writing for MailOnline, said Britain could get a pay rise from backing Brexit
Writing exclusively for MailOnline, Tory veteran John Redwood says backing Brexit next week will mean a pay rise and more jobs.
Leaving the EU should boost pay and create more jobs. Spending our own money on our own priorities ensures that is true from the first post Brexit budget onwards.
The dreary gloomy predictions of Remain are all based on the absurd idea that the rest of the EU will want to impose new barriers on their trade with us, and will be able to do so.
As we are more the customer than the supplier and as we and they live under World Trade Organisation rules this is pure fantasy.
The issue in dispute is will be even better off if we leave or stay? 2030 is too far ahead to be sure.
I do think it more likely we will be better off out, as I think the UK following an independent and outward looking global policy we will be able to adapt more quickly and positively to events. In the EU we are being slowed down and enchained by having to agree any response with 27 other differing and bickering countries.
It is easier forecasting the next two or three years than trying to guess the longer term. Forecasting the next fifteen as the Treasury claims to do is just about impossible.
Will China be the world’s largest economy in 2030, still growing well, or will there have been a China crisis as some fear? Will there be major new breakthroughs in technology, or will still be adapting and using the main internet, materials and biotechnologies we already know about?
These huge questions are difficult to forecast. Changing your assumptions about any of them can make a big difference to the results of the analysis.
It seems likely that if we leave the EU we can look forward to a better pay rise at the bottom end of the income scale than if we stay in. Lord Rose, the Chairman of Remain, said as much in a rare honest forecast from that campaign.
We will also have £10bn a year to spend at home that we have to give way to EU in contributions we don’t get back. This will enable us to hire more people for the NHS and schools who will tend to be better paid people with more skill.
There is also the stimulus effect of the first post Brexit budget, spending that money and removing VAT on fuel to boost people’s spending power.
Large companies who say they would rather we stay in have also usually said they will continue to invest here either way. Nissan, Toyota and Land Rover have no plans to pull out if we leave.
The UK is likely to enjoy a modest pay rise from leaving. Leaving will also cut some of the pressures on housing and public service. If house prices went up less or even got a bit cheaper, that would be great news for all those people under 40 who cannot afford a home of their own but would like one.
I am sure we will be a bit better off this decade from leaving. I have little idea how much better we will be by 2030. Nor can the Treasury, who had to make large revisions to this year’s forecasts between November and March publications.
The Brexit boats: A Fishing for Leave pro-Brexit ‘flotilla’ makes its way smoothly along the River Thames in central London
Another one of the ships had a large sign that read out ‘sold down the river but some of us survived Vote Leave’
This small fishing boat trundled along with a couple of sailors steering the boat upstream as one of the crew looked out to shore
This sturdy boat even had a pirate flag with the ‘vote leave’ message spread around a skull and crossbones picture on a black background
Another ship powers up the river as its fisherman joined in with the vote to leave the EU protest sitting outside in the breeze
Another small ship shows its passengers making the most of the nice weather as well to enjoy a refreshing drink
A larger boat passes through central London on the Thames with the financial district and the Gherkin in the background
A smaller boat accompanies the bigger vessels in a display of defiance against the current state of affairs in the European Union
A blue and white ship with vote leave messages floats past the watching photographers and luxury apartments on shore
One of the smaller ‘fishing to leave ships’ coloured entirely in yellow motors along up the Thames with its own flags blowing in the wind
One of Sir Bob Geldof’s fellow protesters steers a small red speedboat around the water by the ‘Entry to Traitors’ Gate’