Tempers flared between Brexiteers and Remainers at a fishermen’s protest in Whitstable this evening attended by Nigel Farage.
The former Ukip leader came to the town to support the fishermen who were staging the symbolic burning of a boat to highlight Brexit transition arrangements which they fear will cripple the industry.
But his arrival at the harbour prompted an organised counter demonstration by pro Europeans which led to heated exchanges as rival groups traded insults.
Mr Farage has previously pronounced his support for the industry which he claims EU membership is destroying in Britain.
Just last month he joined Fishing For Leave campaigners on the Thames outside Parliament where he emptied boxes of haddock into the river.
Speaking this evening in Whitstable, he said: “The lives of honest working people have been ruined by the Common Fisheries Policy. We voted Brexit to get our sovereignty back and that includes our waters.”
But a counter protest on the beach was staged by a large gathering of EU supporters who claim he is no friend of fishermen and rarely attended EU Fisheries Committee meetings of which he was a member.
The event was part of a nationwide coastal demonstration by trawlermen who claim they have been left high and dry by the “capitulation” of the Government, which they fear will leave Britain trapped in the “disastrous” Common Fisheries Policy.
A flotilla of fishing boats circled off Whitstable beach for an hour before the boat on the foreshore was set alight watched by Mr Farage and accompanied by the sound of horns and fireworks.
One of the protest organisers, Chris Attenborough said: “It was very disappointing that our protest was hijacked by a rival demonstration but I guess it was only to be expected.
“They got a bit agitated when we wouldn’t let them through but the main thing is that we got our point over and the mainstay of our protest, the burning of the boat, took place.”
Mr Attenborough says the nation’s fishing and communities were surrendered to the EU with the government’s complicity and have suffered immeasurably through mis-rule and mismanagement.
“Brexit provides one great opportunity to automatically repatriate our waters and resources, worth £6 to £8 billion, to national control and to start new policy to rejuvenate our coastal communities and industry,”he said.
“Heartbreakingly, our government has capitulated to obeying EU law after Brexit, consigning us to remaining trapped in the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy until January 2021, and possibly forever in exchange for a trade deal.
“We have nobody at the table to fight for our interests. The EU can scrap relative stability and the 12 mile limit. The EU will be unimpeded in implementing further quota cuts or full enforcement of the ill-founded discard ban.”