U-Skip – Farage’s no-show voting record betrays ‘cynical opportunism’

Publication date: 14th June 2016

Greenpeace has accused Nigel Farage of ‘cynical opportunism’ as the Ukip leader prepares to lead a pro-Brexit fishermen flotilla up the Thames tomorrow despite his appalling voting record on fishing policy.

Ukip has been blaming EU fishery laws for the crisis facing many UK’s fishers, hoping to exploit it to the Leave campaign’s advantage. But campaigners say Farage’s no-show voting record on fishing policy betrays his lack of commitment to Britain’s fishing sector.

Official records show that over the three years Farage was a member of the influential European Parliament Fisheries Committee, he turned up for just one of 42 meetings. Greenpeace research also shows that during three major votes to fix the flaws of the Common Fisheries Policy the Ukip leader failed to vote in favour of improving the legislation.

Former fisheries ministers from both Labour and the Conservatives have intervened to debunk the idea that EU fishing rules are to blame for the crisis facing many UK fishers. They pointed out that Britain gets the second largest slice of fish quota in the EU, and on the whole fishing profits in the UK are up and higher than any other EU member state.

Many small fishing businesses have blamed a fish quota allocation that favours large over small vessels for their dire predicament. The distribution of fishing rights within the UK’s fleet is entirely the responsibility of the UK’s fisheries minister.

A Greenpeace investigation has revealed how just three large fishing firms have come to control nearly two-thirds of England’s fish quota, leaving thousands of small boats struggling to keep afloat.

The reformed EU fishing policy requires member states to give more fishing quota to sustainable businesses who support local jobs and coastal economies, but the UK government has so far preferred to ignore it.

In 2013, Nigel Farage had the opportunity to help support this crucial part of the new fisheries policy but chose yet again not to vote.

Greenpeace has been campaigning alongside small-scale fishers for several years to force the government to address the injustice at the heart of the fish quota system.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven commented:

“When Nigel Farage had a chance to stand up for UK fishermen in Brussels, he bunked off. His no-show voting record proves he’s no fisherman’s friend but a cynical opportunist exploiting the harsh predicament of many fishermen for political gain.

“What’s threatening the livelihoods of thousands of sustainable, family-run businesses is the grossly unfair division of fish quota overseen by successive UK governments. The root of the problem lies in London, not Brussels. Quitting the EU will only condemn the industry to years of wrangling over new fisheries agreements, with no guarantee of a better deal for fishers or stronger protections for our seas.”

Ukip defectors have previously slammed the party’s MEPs for not engaging in EU law-making whilst pocketing hundreds of thousands of pounds in pay and allowances.

ENDS

Greenpeace UK press office, t 020 7865 8255, press.uk@greenpeace.org