Of course there's a future for the British fishing industry – on stage | Stewart Lee

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Brexiters are drawn to the romance of hard-bitten seafarers, so why not repurpose it to boost theatres?

On the quay at Port Isaac yesterday evening, lit by a midsummer moon, I stood before an assembled shoal of grizzled Cornish fishermen, fat Henry V in Fred Perry, waving my Olivier award like a sword. “I know you. You’ve survived storms at sea, gales that tear trees from fields. You’ve withstood winds that raise roofs, and endured the tossing of tempests. And if you have the courage to do all that, my fishermen friends, then maybe, just maybe, there’s a future for all of you… on the stages of British theatres!” A cheer went up. Oliver Dowden, the new secretary for digital, culture, media and sport, stood behind his film crew, loving what he saw. I knew he would.

The mythic allure of the British fishing industry was central to the dishonest Brexit campaign of 2016, a propaganda war that finally delivered the most incompetent and cynical government in our union’s modern history. As part of the 2016 offensive Michael Gove claimed the fishing business owned by his father, Ernest, was destroyed by EU policies. That June, however, Ernest contradicted his addled son, citing factors including competition for docking space from North Sea oil vessels as other reasons for his voluntary sale, complicating his son’s expedient and confected anti-EU narrative.

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