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QUENTIN LETTS on Nigel Farage Jacob Rees-Mogg Fishing for Leave

Two boxes of haddock, four days dead and distinctly whiffy from 20ft, stared dolefully from the decks of a Ramsgate fishing boat called Holladays R8.

Like thousands of fish which have to be discarded owing to European Union rules, those haddock were about to be chucked overboard. 

Unlike their fishy friends, they were going to be ditched in the Thames, a few yards from the Houses of Parliament.

Nigel Farage is joined by Jacob Rees-Mogg on the Holladaus R8 as it sails up the Thames as part of the Fishing for Leave campaign 

One on top of the pile was a ringer, I swear, for Jean-Claude Juncker. Same rheumy eyes. But maybe not quite so thirsty.

You can hurl fish into the sea as much as you like, wasting perfectly good food, and the authorities will not complain. 

Indeed, they will be pleased because you are following EU rules, and if there is one thing the clerical class approves of, it is obedience to rules, no matter how daft. 

But if you drop a few glum haddock corpses into the river outside the Commons terrace, you soon come up against the powers-that-be.

Yesterday’s event, held at lowish tide on a bonny March day, was a protest against the Government’s transition deal with the EU. 

Our fishing boats are going to remain bound by Brussels rules for a further 21 months after our official departure from the EU.

Yesterday¿s event, held at lowish tide on a bonny March day, was a protest against the Government¿s transition deal with the EU, writes Quentin Letts 

Yesterday’s event, held at lowish tide on a bonny March day, was a protest against the Government’s transition deal with the EU, writes Quentin Letts 

Some in the fishing industry think there will be a further betrayal in the final departure agreements. 

Whitehall has almost nothing in common with fishing types. They are the sort of people who write facetious remarks on bureaucratic questionnaires. They are – dread word – individuals.

The good tub Holladays (skipper Christopher Attenborough, from Whitstable) chugged under Tower Bridge at breakfast time and was soon preparing to moor at Embankment pier, not far from the Ministry of Defence. ‘You can’t moor here!’ yelled the piermaster. ‘Health and safety!’

Nothing to do with him having been told by political bosses to try to stop this protest, then.

Various Conservative MPs had been expected to give a press conference about the haddock-dumping stunt. 

That was before the Tory Whips started fretting. In the event we had to make do, on the bobbing pier, with Jacob Rees-Mogg (NE Somerset), Craig Mackinlay (S Thanet) and Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon- Tweed). 

The good tub Holladays (skipper Christopher Attenborough, from Whitstable) chugged under Tower Bridge at breakfast time and was soon preparing to moor at Embankment pier, not far from the Ministry of Defence. ¿You can¿t moor here!¿ yelled the piermaster. ¿Health and safety!¿

The good tub Holladays (skipper Christopher Attenborough, from Whitstable) chugged under Tower Bridge at breakfast time and was soon preparing to moor at Embankment pier, not far from the Ministry of Defence. ‘You can’t moor here!’ yelled the piermaster. ‘Health and safety!’

Good on Mrs Trevelyan. She is a ministerial aide and will have done her immediate career no good by supporting the fishermen.

The trio no doubt said fantastically quotable things. Alas, my hearing is not what it was and the wind and traffic noise and the fact that I was at the rear of the media scrum made them inaudible.

Mr Rees-Mogg had a neatly folded copy of the Financial Times in his hand. He looked more like a man off to his City office than a politician partaking in a spot of populist trouble-making. The pinstriped Poujadiste.

Another Tory MP, Ross Thomson (Aberdeen S), had earlier boarded the Holladays to say that the transition deal was ‘unacceptable’ on fishing. 

‘We want out and we want out now,’ said young, sparky Mr Thomson. But he later left the boat and none of his Tory colleagues stepped aboard. The Whips must have been insistent.

Various Conservative MPs had been expected to give a press conference about the haddock-dumping stunt. That was before the Tory Whips started fretting. So we had to make do, on the bobbing pier, with Jacob Rees-Mogg (centre), Craig Mackinlay (left) and Anne-Marie Trevelyan (right)

Various Conservative MPs had been expected to give a press conference about the haddock-dumping stunt. That was before the Tory Whips started fretting. So we had to make do, on the bobbing pier, with Jacob Rees-Mogg (centre), Craig Mackinlay (left) and Anne-Marie Trevelyan (right)

Cue the ‘Jaws’ music. Enter former Ukip leader Nigel Farage. By now we had moved 200 yards up the Embankment to a pier just beside Parliament. 

Capt Farage, in his usual bookie’s coat and impish grin, came sauntering down the gangway, coughed up a few ruderies about the EU, and hopped aboard Holladays like a doge leaping into his personal gondola.

The fishing boat, which was by now being shadowed by a police launch, made its way upstream until level with the Commons terrace. Mr Farage and Scots trawlerman Aaron Brown duly threw the haddock overboard, posing for TV cameras as they did so.

At PMQs an hour or so later, Mrs Trevelyan boldly confronted Theresa May on the transition deal, conveying ‘the real concern’ of her fishing constituents. 

What did Philip Hammond do? He laughed.



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