Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrived in Whitstable this evening to join Brexit-supporting fishermen.
Trawlermen are unhappy with the government’s transitional deal with EU, saying it will leave them trapped by the Common Fisheries Policy.
The protest began around 5pm with small fishing vessels letting off flares and lining up alongside the harbour wall opposite the sailing club.
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Their supporters on the beach were met by pro-Remain campaigners waving EU flags and anti-Brexit placards.
The tense atmosphere between the two sides escalated when Farage, flanked by bodyguards, arrived at around 6pm.
The former Thanet South candidate told the Journal: “I fear the transition period is going to be a death sentence for many of these families working in this hub. This is bad news and to be honest with you not what people voted for.
“These communities are very angry about it and they’ve every right to be.”
He then boarded a small vessel which headed out to join the other boats.
Remain supporters armed with a megaphone shouted and jeered as he passed.
Lib Dem James Flanagan, who campaigned vigorously for the UK to remain in the European Union, said: “Nigel Farage only attended one meeting during the three years he sat on the EU’s fisheries committee.
“It is rather hypocritical for him to suddenly take up the banner now that it suits him politically.
“Much of the fish caught in our waters is actually exported. That will be much harder to do if we leave the single market and the customs union.”
An old fishing boat festooned with an anti-government message was then torched.
Campaign group Fishing for Leave organised protests at harbours across the UK today.
It said: “This is our way of life and heritage – we have the chance to pass a bright future on to the next generation like our forefathers did to us.
“The protest’s purpose is to take our industry’s plight to the public and to pressure MPs not to allow this surrender of our nation’s greatest renewable resource which can support generations to come.
“No deal is better than this bad deal.”
The counter protest was organised by Canterbury for Europe.
Spokesman Chris Weller said: “Do the Brexiters know that In 2015, 70% of fish caught in Whitstable was transported to markets in France, such as Boulogne?
“Do the Brexiters not realise that any contract will have to be renegotiated? These things don’t happen overnight. So once we’re off the cliff, what are they going to do with all their fish?”
“We’ll watch Fishing for Leave burn a boat, but people need to realise that what they really want to do is burn this country’s bridges.”
Leave advocate Henry Bolton, another former Ukip leader, and his girlfriend Jo Marney also turned up to give their backing.