back to top

The Man In UKIP's New Poster Doesn't Know If He's Going To Vote UKIP

BuzzFeed News spoke to Tony Rutherford, the fisheries boss featured in UKIP's latest poster. He's not sure who to vote for.

Posted on

The man featured in UKIP's latest poster has told BuzzFeed News he's not sure whether he's voting UKIP.

Tony Rutherford, 59, is managing director of Bideford Fisheries in Devon. He's the face of the party's new poster highlighting the impact of EU laws on coastal communities.

Nigel Farage unveiled the hard-hitting poster in Grimsby on Wednesday, surrounded by camera crews. Its stark text reads: "Gutted. Tony's business has been ripped apart by the EU."

Speaking from his Devon home, Rutherford told BuzzFeed News of the "devastating" effects of a nationwide ban on ray fishing in October. He said it cost him £590,000 and that he was forced to lay off 12 staff, including his own grandson.

Rutherford said he got involved in UKIP's campaign to "try and push the cause to get control of our fishing rights".

But he said it wasn't just UKIP fighting for his cause – and that he hadn't yet made his mind up on who to vote for in May.

Rutherford praised the work of his local Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox, who is standing for re-election.

"He's done an awful lot of work as well," he said. "He's been tremendous towards the fishing industry, question time in parliament, the lot."

Asked who he will be voting for in May, Rutherford paused, before replying: "I don't know. I've got MPs from all angles fighting for the industry.

"It's a very awkward question for myself because they're all doing so much for us. It isn't just UKIP that realises it's serious, everyone does. It's just UKIP that seems to do the shouting about it."

But he said he hugely respected Farage as a man of the people. "He's a bit more like us," he said. "A lot of people don't like him having a pint and a fag, I think that's the best thing. He looks natural, you know. At the end of the day, that's all the working man wants – a pint and a fag."

Rutherford, who has been in the fisheries industry since he was 15, said Britain has lost control of its own fishing rights.

"Of the fish caught in our own waters, we get 17%," he said. "The 83% goes to other European vessels. Enough's enough.

"If it was oil or diamonds out there on the sea floor, it would be a different matter, but we're just giving away out natural resources, that's all we're doing. There's nothing wrong with the stocks whatsoever, it's swarming out there, absolutely swarming."

He said the government was finally waking up to the problem.

"They're starting to listen a bit more over the last three months, they're starting to realise we're not a bunch of liars and what we're telling them is the truth," he said.

"But god almighty, it's like banging your head against a brick wall. The biggest problem is that your fisheries minister changes that often so you get somebody in who hasn't got a clue, usually that can't even tell the difference between certain types of fish, then you get them trained up and they change them.

"Then you've got to train the next one up. You get a bit despondent."

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.