A crew of Brexiteers have hurled crates of fish into the Thames, in a bizarre act of defiance over Theresa May’s fisheries deal. The deal will effectively keep the UK in the common fisheries policy until the end of 2020.
Nigel Farage was amongst those tossing dead fish into the Thames, over what Brexiteers are calling May’s “abject betrayal.” Thirteen salty Tory MPs have now written to the prime minister, threatening to withdraw their support from the transition deal over the issue.
The campaign group behind the protest, Fishing for Leave, said on Wednesday morning that “the ﬁshing boat Holladays R8 will pass through Tower Bridge at 8am and sail upriver before tying up at Embankment pier 0830. Where there will then be a press conference with the chairman of the ERG, Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP, and other Conservative MPs with ﬁshing constituencies.
“The Holladays will then sail with Craig McKinley, MP, and Ross Thompson, MP, and set off again and pass parliament, where she will symbolically dump fish in protest at the British fishing industry being trapped and subjected to another 21 months of the inept Common Fisheries Policy which could see much of the UK ﬂeet put out of business.”
Who could have predicted that this would descend into farce?
— Ifan Morgan Jones (@ifanmj) March 21, 2018
Speaking from the fishing trawler, ex-UKIP leader Farage told Sky News the government did not have the “guts” to stand up to the EU. “They told us they would take back control in 2019 – that is not happening,” he said.
“We are now told at the start of 2021 it may happen. I don’t think this government has got the guts or the strength to stand up and take back our territorial waters.”
In early March, Farage said a failure to regain control of UK fisheries would spell a betrayal of Brexit. As part of its post-Brexit plans, the UK was seeking to revoke the Commons Fisheries Act, which gives EU trawlers indiscriminate access to British fish stocks.
This fish CANNOT be landed or sold in the U.K. because of EU rules, the campaigners say. This is typical of the catch discarded they say pic.twitter.com/iE22eW5NM4
— Christopher Hope 📝 (@christopherhope) March 21, 2018
“Unless we take back full ownership and control of our waters, Brexit will have been betrayed. Our coastal fishing communities have this one last chance,” the Brexiteer tweeted.
On Wednesday, politicians and Fishing for Leave protesters alike boarded the Holladays R8 to dump Haddock, skate, and bass into the Thames. MPs lined the Thames at Westminster, with ‘Captain Haddock’ himself – Jacob Rees Mogg – watching on from the river bank.
Rees-Mogg said in an interview with LBC on Tuesday that it is “regrettable” the Tory leader “conceded” to the EU maintaining access to British territorial waters during a 21-month transition period. He advised the government to “rethink” its policy.
“As a unionist I greatly welcome the opportunity for Scottish fishing, particularly. The majority of fish in British waters are actually in Scottish waters. So it will be particularly helpful to the Scottish economy to have a regrowth of its fishing industry.
“And to delay that by 21 months is regrettable, I happen to think an error, and I don’t think the government should have conceded on fish.” He added: “I think, on the fishing issue, the government should rethink.”
He also said that he was “not a fish thrower,” and would not be taking part in Wednesday’s protest. “I think this has got slightly out of hand… I have a nasty feeling that if I started throwing fish, they would be brought back in the wind and hit me in the face,” Rees-Mogg added.
This is not brill but I won’t carp about it. I would feel out of plaice throwing fish and would doubtless flounder. https://t.co/rfsLXN4BuR
— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) March 20, 2018
I have tried to honour the death of this noble haddock, murdered by Nigel Farage upon the altar of Brexit, with appropriate verse. Rest now, fishy warrior. pic.twitter.com/jpl5L6yf3r
— Tom Peck (@tompeck) March 21, 2018
On the banks of the Thames on Wednesday, Rees-Mogg was unsure if he would board the boat, eventually deciding against it. “We’ll see when it gets here,” he told media at the waterfront. “What I certainly won’t be doing is throwing fish in the Thames.”
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!