Brexit flotilla to hit the Thames after PM bruising

3rd June 2016, Comments 0 comments

Britain's UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Friday he would lead a flotilla up the Thames to campaign for Brexit, seizing momentum after Prime Minister David Cameron endured a bruising television debate.

Farage, who heads the UK Independence Party, said he would board a trawler at the head of a 60-boat procession which will sail to the Houses of Parliament on June 15 in a mass protest organised by campaign group "Fishing for Leave".

"It will be big, visual and dramatic, and the demand will be clear -- we want our waters back," he told LBC radio, arguing that Britain's fishing industry was in decline because of European Union quotas.

The announcement came amid another busy day of campaigning by both sides ahead of the June 23 vote, as polls suggest the "Leave" campaign is getting a boost with its focus on cutting back on EU migration to Britain.

Cameron visited a brewery to make the case for staying in, after a challenging performance in a live question and answer session on television on Thursday evening.

His justice secretary Michael Gove, who backs Brexit, is due to face a similar grilling on Sky News later.

Guardian/ICM polls published on May 31 showed the "Leave" vote with 52 percent compared with 48 percent for "Remain" in a surprise result that immediately sent the pound sinking against the euro and dollar.

The "poll of polls" average compiled by the independent WhatUKThinks website, however, still puts the "Remain" camp just ahead with 51 percent when undecided voters are excluded.

- 'Voters revolt' -

In the first live broadcast event of the campaign, Cameron was accused by a 22-year-old student of "scaremongering" and running a "complete shambles" of a campaign.

Facing an often hostile audience, the prime minister warned that "Leave" would be an act of "economic self-harm"

"Cameron savaged as voters revolt," read a front-page headline in the Daily Telegraph, while the Daily Mirror said he "took far more blows... than he would like" and The Sun described it as a "tense clash".

But the "Remain" camp pressed home his message on Friday with the latest in a string of orchestrated warnings by business leaders about the economic risk of a Brexit.

At an event with finance minister George Osborne, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, said leaving the EU could put at risk some of the US bank's 16,000 jobs in Britain.

A joint letter signed by HSBC chairman and chief executive Douglas Flint and Stuart Gulliver, PwC chairman Ian Powell and BT Group chief executive Gavin Patterson among others also warned of the risk to the services sector.

In a speech to supporters in London, Farage claimed that UKIP's focus on immigration was beginning to change the referendum debate, but conceded that "we need to fight back on the economics much more robustly".

In another development that could boost the "Leave" campaign, a cross-party committee of MPs warned that the government's failure to deport EU foreign convicts would lead the public to "question the point" of being in the bloc.

dt-ar/har


© 2016 AFP

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