Geldof says UK ‘knifing themselves in the guts’ over Brexit

Bob Geldof accepts lifetime achievement award at The Irish Post awards in London

Bob Geldof has said Brexit can still be stopped. File photograph: David Crosling/EPA

Bob Geldof has said Brexit can still be stopped. File photograph: David Crosling/EPA

 

Bob Geldof has accused the English of “knifing themselves in the guts” over Brexit and says it can still be stopped.

Geldof was one of the most prominent remain campaigners during the Brexit campaign and was criticised for flicking a V sign at fishermen protesting against the European Union.

He accepted a lifetime achievement award at the 40th Irish Post awards in London’s Grosvenor Hotel on Thursday night which was broadcast live on TG4.

“We have a year and a half to prevent this catastrophe,” he said of Brexit. “Over 90 per cent of the Irish in Britain in the great cities of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Derry and Belfast, voted to remain.

“It is in the interest of Britain to stay in Europe as it is in the interests of Ireland to be allied with Britain in Europe. This is very dangerous for our native country and it is very dangerous for here.

“We are used to the English shooting themselves in the foot, but they are now knifing themselves in the guts.”

Sir Bob told assembled guests, many of whom are prominent in the Irish community in Britain, that they owed their livings to a “magnificent country and a very generous and tolerant people who are the British”.

He was presented with his award by the actress Fionnuala Flanagan. “I was afraid to touch Fionnuala there because of the metoo,” he said referring to the recent campaign to stop sexual harassment.

He also defended his decision to give back his freedom of Dublin given to the Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

He did so as a protest against the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma who have been targeted by the authorities there.

He said she was an “accomplice to genocide” and it was not enough to say that her influence was limited because effectively the Burmese generals run the country.

“She’s a prime minister. Her job is to speak out. Eighty per cent of the people of Burma are Bhuddists and they agree with the cleansing of a people who have been in their country for 300 years. It is wrong. She has a responsibility.”

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the Irish in London had made the city a “livelier more vibrant place”.

He praised the Irish dockers who were involved in the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 when campaigners stopped a march organised by the British Union of Fascists (BUF) from passing through a Jewish area of London.

Mr Khan also said the conduct of Irish fans who attended the European Championships in France last summer demonstrated the “inclusive nature” of the Irish people.

Singer Imelda May and the rowing brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan were among the recipients of the awards.