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Sheppey fishermen campaigning to leave the EU tell Sir Bob Geldof to spend a week fishing with them

By Aodhan Gregory

Bob Geldof is being urged to spend time out at sea with a Sheppey fisherman.

The invite comes after the Boomtown Rat was involved in a confrontation on the River Thames last week.

Matthew Barnes says the Irish-born entertainer needs to understand the difficulties the fishing industry faces.

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Sir Bob Geldof
Sir Bob Geldof

The 28-year-old was part of a flotilla of 40 vessels which journeyed to Westminster on Wednesday.

They were showing their support for the Brexit cause – saying EU quotas are ruining them.

But when they arrived, Mr Barnes says they were “hijacked” by the Live Aid organiser.

He was on a boat carrying Remain supporters with banners and a sound system blaring out music.

The singer also made speeches.

Mr Barnes, who has been working on trawlers since the age of 10, says Faversham resident Mr Geldof overshadowed the protest.

He said: “It was a complete joke, he hijacked a sensible campaign and robbed the media attention from us.

“The facts of the whole event were blown out of the water and everything became about Geldof.”

A flotilla of fishermen and trawlers sailed down the River Thames at first light as part of the Vote Leave campaign
A flotilla of fishermen and trawlers sailed down the River Thames at first light as part of the Vote Leave campaign

There were also angry exchanges between the musician and his small fleet of Remain-backing vessels and Nigel Farage.

The Ukip leader was travelling with the pro-Leave flotilla.

Mr Barnes, of Nunnery Grove, Minster, added: “The scuffle was too far up for us to see as we only went through Tower Bridge and moored close to the HMS Belfast.

“But I do know a couple of fishermen did get onto Geldof’s boat and told what they thought of him.

“A lot of boats are facing financial ruin and sacrificed their wages to be there.

“So, to have this multi-millionaire telling us we’re not worth saving is very frustrating.”

Trawlermen John Buchan and Matthew Barnes at the Vote Leave flotilla
Trawlermen John Buchan and Matthew Barnes at the Vote Leave flotilla

Mr Barnes, who fishes out of Herne Bay, is offering Mr Geldof the chance to see the other side of the debate.

He said: “I think he’s just misinformed about the whole thing and I would invite him to spend a week fishing with us to see the struggle we face.”

These include quotas on what they can catch, which he says has led to smaller vessels losing income and thousands of fish being discarded needlessly.

Mr Geldof was given opportunity to comment.

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