The Euro Election campaign trail turned it’s attention to fishing in Cornwall today.
Ann Widdecombe sent a message of support to Newlyn fishermen today, some of whom hoisted Brexit Party flags on their boats in support of Nigel Farrage’s new party.
The fishing industry overwhelmingly voted to Leave in the 2016 Referendum and activists at the quayside said they had joined the new party in frustration at the lack of progress from the government.
Widdecombe, a life long Conservative until now, is the No.1 candidate for The Brexit Party in next week’s Euro elections.
She had to postpone a planned trip by boat to Scilly due to the weather, but sent a message to the quayside saying
“This demonstration by fishermen, who make such a huge contribution to the Cornish economy, should make anybody think twice about a future under the EU thumb.
Just think what the UK fishing industry can do when it is free of external interference!
And fishing isn’t alone if facing a brighter future outside the EU.”
Tony Pearce, a skipper of 25 years experience, said it was important to get out of the Common Fisheries Policy as quick as possible ‘to get our water back’.
He told us “It’s so we get access to our own fish and our own waters. At the moment the lion’s share is all going to EU boats which is totally unfair”
The industry largely welcomed the pieces of the Withdrawal Agreement covering fishing, that were negotiated in the main by Camborne and Redruth MP George Eustice in his previous role at DEFRA.
But Mr Pearce said he couldn’t trust Theresa May to deliver Brexit at all now.
“She’s completely untrustworthy. She’s lied on every issue she’s come out with. We should have dealt with Brexit. This should be over and finished with a long time ago. But I honestly believe this deal was made up by the EU and not Mrs May” he said.
The Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farrage, was only formed earlier this year but is predicted to perform very well at the expense of the Conservatives and UKIP in next week’s elections. Supporters in Newlyn today said that the party already has a solid base in Cornwall and they had received ‘thousands’ of messages of support from the wider community.
They described The Brexit Party as free of the extremities of UKIP and said felt the need to show support the fishing industry today, who they say are in a very real danger of being let down once again by negotiations over Europe.
But Jayne Kirkham for Labour said today “We will always need to work together with other countries to make fish stock sustainable.
Fish tend not to abide by lines in the sea according to nationality. Legislation we signed up to before we entered the EU like The UN Convention Law of the Sea & the 1964 London Fisheries Convention make that a given whether we are in the EU or not and many fishing waters are shared and our catch will still need to be negotiated with other countries.
The way the Conservative Government distributes our quota and allows it to be sold off to non-British boats causes real problems. 30% of our quota is owned by a few rich families. 53% is in the hands of 3 companies. 49% of our quota is owned by foreign companies.”
Labour wants to reform the quota share for new and existing fishing allocating quota based on progressive social, environmental criteria. Such criteria would stand to benefit small boats, the backbone of British fishing that make up 49% of employment in the catching sector but only have around 6% of fishing quota.
These smaller boats make up the majority of the fleet in Cornwall.”
James Mustoe for the Conservatives and keen spokesman for the fishing fleet of his home in Mevagissey commented