20 August 2021
The fishing industry in England never had a truer, more constant friend in Westminster than Austin Mitchell MP. His commitment to and interest in the fishing industry ran well beyond his constituency interests and lasted beyond his long career as MP for Great Grimsby. Austin was outraged by the UK’s acquiescence to the exploitative relationship on fisheries between the UK and the EEC in 1973 that lay at the heart of the Common Fisheries Policy from its origins. He was rightly suspicious that history would repeat itself in the negotiations leading to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU in December 2020. Austin played a significant part the industry’s titanic opposition to the UK Government's attempts to limit time at sea for every fishing vessel in the country, to meet EU fleet reduction targets on the cheap. His rousing speech was the centrepiece of a rally of 3000 fishermen gathered organised by the NFFO in Westminster Hall in July 1992. In hundreds of smaller struggles, and parliamentary debates, Austin was on our side. Gifted with an infection sense of fun, he was none-the-less an impassioned and eloquent parliamentary performer, always taking time to ensure his arguments were soundly based in fact. Sheer force of personality made him a unique and highly visible player in Westminster, even if his maverick political positions on a range of issues denied him the high office that his talents equipped him for.
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