leading the charge

Bob Geldof and his 'we're going to need a bigger boat' battle with Brexit

The singer has been keeping a low enough profile in the Brexit debate – until now…

DESPITE BEING AN assiduous campaigner on everything from famine in Africa and the refugee crisis to the Scottish independence referendum, Bob Geldof’s contribution to the Brexit debate has been, if anything, a little understated.

Until yesterday, that is.

The Boomtown Rats frontman is perhaps the best-known Irish resident of the UK. He’s not short on opinions either.

Given his reputation, we could have probably expected a show-stealing outburst or performance from the Dun Laoghaire-born singer before now.

Perhaps he was just biding his time. In all likelihood, the showman in him couldn’t resist the opportunity to grab a loudhailer, jump on a boat and shout things across the Thames at Nigel Farage.

Their spat dominated headlines in the UK yesterday…

BBC News / YouTube

‘You’re no fisherman’s friend’ 

In case you missed Geldof’s ‘fisherman’s friend’ intervention in the debate – it began when a Brexit fishing flotilla sailed up the Thames as part of a PR stunt to call for a Leave vote.

Around 30 fishing boats floated past London’s Tower Bridge, sounding their foghorns and displaying anti-EU signs – led by Farage, the UKIP leader.

Geldof pulled up in a rival (bigger) boat, shouting “Nigel you’re a fraud” through a loudhailer, only to be hosed with water from a ‘Leave’ boat.

“Here are the facts about fishing,” the singer and businessman yelled.

“One, Britain makes more money than any other country in Europe from fishing. Two, Britain has the second largest quota for fish in Europe after Denmark. Three, Britain has the third largest landings.

“Four, you are no fisherman’s friend.

You were on the European Parliament Fishing Committee and you attended one out of 43 meetings.

EU referendum Stefan Rousseau Stefan Rousseau

Farage, as you might expect, branded the “multi-millionaire” as “just disgusting” – going on to claim:

We used to protest against the establishment, now the establishment protests against us.

Previous campaigns

Geldof also made a late intervention in the Scottish independence referendum back in 2014 – pleading with a crowd of thousands at Trafalgar Square not to break up the “family”.

His biggest contribution to the current debate, until yesterday, had been to record a video with the Irish4Europe group – urging Irish people who are entitled to vote to get themselves registered.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on Radio 1 this morning, he explained that recent polls had him worried.

“I think Britain’s going out,” an exasperated Geldof said.

“If you ask me this morning we’re going out. Everyone keeps saying the bookies have got it right – they say it’s 5 to 2 as opposed to 2 to 1.

He continued:

Maybe it comes down to young people – but loads of them haven’t registered or they won’t get up or they’re indifferent [or] they don’t understand the consequences.

2016 IFTA Awards - Ireland Geldof meets fans at the Iftas in Dublin in April. Niall Carson Niall Carson

He also painted a stark picture of what would happen in the event of a Leave vote in next Thursday’s ballot.

“I would say they’re going out which means a border between North and South – a police border again, and the consequences of that – the smuggling and everything else.

This isn’t good for Ireland.

“I really, really hope that anyone listening to you gets on to their folks in the UK,” he implored – stressing that there are “five and a half million paddies” in Britain, including emigrants and direct descendents.

They really seriously have to keep Britain in Europe. This is awful for Ireland and you’ve got to come out fighting guys.

Charm offensive

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is also beginning a two-day visit to the UK today to campaign for Remain – and Ireland has been sending over a steady conveyor belt of ministers in recent months to meet with community groups and try and mobilise the vote.

We’re now heading into the final week of campaigning.

Given the way the polls are going, we can no doubt expect a few more high-volume contributions from Geldof too.

“We’ll give you a shout the morning after – how about that, and see where we’re at?” Ryan Tubridy asked the singer, on the line from London, as this morning’s interview ended.

Geldof’s response registered somewhere between a guttural moan and a very loud sigh.

Read: Enda’s off to Britain to ask them to stay in the EU >

Read: Enda Kenny will NOT be meeting David Cameron this week >

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