Richard Tice, who stood and lost as an MP for Hartlepool at the 2019 General Election, is coming back for another go, to the extent that his Reform Party has set up an HQ in the town. It’ll have its work cut out – in the 2021 by-election Reform UK’s pro-freeport candidate John Prescott (not the former Labour Deputy Prime Minister) won just 368 votes, or just 1.2% of the vote, compared with the admittedly impressive 25.8% Tice landed for the Brexit Party in 2019.
Getting back control of fishing?
Maybe Prescott didn’t have Tice’s charisma. Otherwise, the Reform Party that replaced the Brexit Party is the same party really; same logo, same people, same chair (Tice) – just a different name, expunging Brexit from its banner, and, er, different policies, as a trawl through its most recent shoal finds no word of fishing, nor fishing communities. This is most odd. The Brexit Party’s big thing, indeed the big thing of Brexit, with massive resonance around towns like Hartlepool and Redcar, towns absolutely hammered by post-industrial decline, was as Tice said himself, “to get back proper control of fishing”.
See this Facebook post from Brexit Party MEP June Mummery’s page from the day before the 2019 election, titled “Help to Buy a Boat!” with the strapline, “Vote Richard Tice for Hartlepool 12th December 2019”. She and Tice – also a Brexit Party MEP and by that really shouldn’t have stood as an MP at the same time, indeed his campaign took to hiring some pretty ropey characters in his campaigning, as Channel 4 News disclosed – are down the docks, checking out brand new, all-British-built fishing boats, the skippers showing off the boats’ hi-tech versatility: “We’re able to go prawn trawling, we’re able to go crab potting,” says one. Yes, prawn and lobster fishing, the other refers to.
A big problem is prohibitively expensive fishing licences preventing young people from entering the industry. Tice says: “We have help to buy for houses, so why not have help to buy for fishing boats?” Great stuff. And for sure, “We can’t let the Tories sell us down the river on this job,” says Tice, by now the Brexit Party having already sold out its own candidates to enable Johnson to win.
Within weeks, that’s exactly what’s happening, Mummery complains, with fishing rights bang on the table as part of the upcoming deal. Where’s Tice?
And where was he in 2021 as reports came in of masses and masses and masses of crabs and other crustaceans washing up dead all down the Redcar coast, with the death knell tolling for the fishing communities built on them? This has been reported on at great depth and with great tenacity by Scott Hunter and Julia Mazza, but the short is the Environment Agency looked into the crustacean wipe out and found that torrents of sewage releases, freshly unleashed by water companies unchained from EU penalties for drowning people in sh**, were not to blame, nor were dredging and pollution.
But in late 2022 university researchers revealed it was pollution from dredging the Teesside River and estuary, done to remodel Teesside as a one of the eight new freeports promised to fulfil another great Brexit selling point (read, lie) that the EU had banned freeports and Brexit would allow them again.
But dredging disturbed residues of the chemical pyridine left in the silt from ICI’s days, a pollutant that like asbestos is fine if undisturbed, but mess with it will cause debilitating illnesses over years, or in high doses causes death in hours with nerve-agent like effects – as seen with the crustaceans washing up on the shores as pyridine washed down the coast. What a poisonous bounty Brexit delivers.
But nothing in the Reform Party literature about any of that. The only boats mentioned are those carrying ‘illegal migrants’, vis-à-vis Brexit’s great racially-charged ‘take back control’ death-rattle that’s led to boat numbers vaulting and the BXP-enabled Tory government now legislating to break international law to commit barbarities upon the poorest. What’s up, Tice? Ask him next time he’s door-knocking in Hartlepool.