Impassioned Letter From Brixham Trawlerman to an undemocratic MP

Graham Charles Lear
7 min readAug 24, 2019


Sarah Wollaston MP MP for Totnes in Devon

Today I would like to share a letter with you all from Brixham trawlerman Gerald Podschies, Skipper of Carhelmar BM 23, addressed to Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP. He calls on Dr. Wollaston to resign as MP for Totnes in Devon and to put herself and her views to the electorate.

In his eloquent letter, this lifelong fisherman makes a strong case for his fellow fishermen across the UK and for the control of UK waters. He does so in a thoroughly reasoned and polite way and finally calls on his MP to quit and fight a by-election.

Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP — what are voters supposed to think?

So who is the MP whom this fisherman is calling on to quit?

Dr. Sarah Wallaston MP

Feb 2016–07 Jun 2016. Supported Vote Leave

Flip-flop 1–08 Jun 2016. Two weeks before the Referendum she switched sides and became a Remainer

Flip-flop 2 — Jul 2017. Re-elected as Conservative MP, on a manifesto of respecting the Referendum result

Flip-flop 3 — Dec 2017. Voted against the Government, setting up the process of “meaningful votes” in Parliament

Flip-flop 4 — Feb 2019. Quit the Tories to join The Independent Group, later “Change UK”

Flip-flop 5 — Jun 2019. Quit Change UK to become an independent MP

Flip-flop 6 — Aug 2019. Changed again, to join the LibDems

In the space of six months, this MP has held five-party statuses in Parliament: Conservative, The Independent Group, Change UK, independent, and now LibDem. She has also gone from being a supporter of Vote Leave to being a Remainer, to being a supporter of the People’s Vote.

No wonder the following letter was written.


By Gerald Podschies, Skipper of Brixham trawler Carhelmar BM 23

Dear Dr. Sarah Wollaston,

I voted for you in the last general election on the understanding that, although you personally voted against Brexit, you would honour the will of the majority.

54% of your constituents voted for Brexit. Not one kind of Brexit or another, just Brexit. Nothing more nothing less. In my life experience, nothing worth having has come without some effort, self-sacrifice and pain. I can’t help likening Brexit process to my cancer treatment 5 years ago.

Like the British nation, I thought I was healthy going into diagnosis and treatment. The process of getting rid of the cancer was long, painful and seemed interminable. In the end I am cured, and life is good.

Since the Brexit referendum I have certainly woken up to what is going on in the EU. I’m sure many people have.

I don’t wish to sound melodramatic, but the cancer of the Euro and the top-heavy administration seems doomed to destroy the EU. Italy has debts it will never be able to re-pay and Germany is now in recession, dragged down by the weaker economies in Europe.

Without doubt there are good things to have come out of the EU, but nothing the British people could not adopt and improve upon. History’s proven us to be a tough, resilient, resourceful bunch. I’m sure we can get through the painful process and be all the better for it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


I voted for you — and the Conservative party — as those best placed to deliver on that democratic referendum result.

I can’t help feeling betrayed by what seems to me a perfidious act of joining a party diametrically opposed to the wishes of that majority of your electorate. Weakening the hand of your former allies on the government benches.

In my 40 plus years as a fisherman, I have struggled under the jackboot of the CFP. Having to stand by as more and more EU boats were granted access to our waters and decimated our fisheries. Helplessly watching as once thriving fishing ports fell into decline and British boats were decommissioned for scrap.

I am skipper of a Brixham registered beam trawler Carhelmar BM 23. The boat is managed by the multi-million-pound company Interfish. In the run up to the referendum I was a bit ambiguous as to how I felt. On the one hand, most of my career was under the disastrous CFP. On the other, many of our markets are abroad and I wasn’t sure of the greater economic consequences.

Joining Fishing for Leave on the Thames

It wasn’t until I met up with our company owner Jan Colam (himself of Dutch origin) that I was fully convinced of the long-term benefits. He allowed us to join the Fishing for Leave rally up the Thames.

A long day that felt very good as we grabbed the media’s attention to deliver the message about how strongly we felt to the heart of the Remain capital. Despite the likes of Bob Geldof trying to throw scorn on us.

Now I sense a golden opportunity with the chance to take back control of the management of our bountiful resource. There’s hope of a real future for my son and other young people. They are the future generation of British fishermen who just want to make an honest living putting food in people’s mouths.

Of course, there is a long tradition of European coastal countries having access to our waters, and with a no deal Brexit that would have to be negotiated on our terms.

Control of our own catches

With Britain getting back a fair and proportionate share of the available Total Allowable Catches (TACs) agreed between coastal states under the principle of Zonal Attachment — not just a few extra kilos in return or bartered for agricultural and trade concessions as we saw going into the EEC.

Such access should only be based on reciprocal swaps in appropriate fisheries. With visiting boats having access only if subject to strict enforcement and monitoring conditions — such as having to land their catch into Britain to ensure compliance.

Stringent management, like the Icelandic and Norwegian fisheries introduced, could see our fisheries that have been over exploited by EU vessels in the past recovering to greater abundance and sustainability.

Protecting our waters, reaping £4 billion

The technologies exist to protect our waters. Couple this with modest outlay on fisheries protection vessels, and a robust no compromise enforcement policy, and I’m sure that visiting vessels would toe the line.

By getting our countries rightful share of TACs [Total Allowable Catches] we could see already profitable fishing ports like Brixham, Newlyn, Plymouth and other ports nationwide doubling their income and thriving.

Taking back control of our rightful TAC share on exit means an extra £1bn in catch value alone. Then there’s the added value from processing, around another £4bn. Hardly insignificant sums.

The environment — Improving sustainable fishing

A portion of the extra income generated could help finance more of our own comprehensive scientific studies to gather more stock and environmental data. Coupled with landing and monitoring data this could form the basis of new, realistic and sustainable effort control.

We have a huge opportunity with Brexit. Failing to leave will see British fishing and coastal communities that you and other MPs represent decline further.

Please stand down now, Sarah Wollaston

I can’t blame you for doing what you think is best but this time it’s at odds to what I, and I dare say many other previous supporters, think you should do.

So, I’m asking you, in the interests of democracy, to please stand down as MP for Totnes and force a by-election. Then you can put your standpoint to the electorate and see if enough of your constituents still support your different position.

That will give the Conservative party a chance to field a candidate supportive of the PM’s line who we can vote for.

Backing Boris

Personally, I think Boris requires all the support we can give. It’s become apparent that the EU needs a tough no-nonsense approach of a hard negotiator. With a no deal Brexit likely there is a possibility the EU negotiators may be more flexible. We hope, cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Thank you for all the good work you have done but now you must put your change in position to your electors.

Regards, Gerald Podschies.

Skipper of Carhelmar BM 23

The people of Totnes surely deserve better than this?

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Podschies that Dr. Wollaston must stand down and fight a by-election. How can anyone trust an MP who has changed position three times on the biggest political issue of our generation, and who has held five different party statuses in Parliament in six months?

Sadly, as readers will know, Dr. Wollaston is not the only Remainer politician to have flip-flopped many times. I believe, however, that to go from being a Vote Leave campaigner to becoming an out-and-out Remoaner and denier of the democratic result of the EU Referendum should make her one of the most unelectable MPs in Parliament.

If she disagrees, we suggest that she follow Mr. Podschies’ advice and put this to the test.

[ Sources: Fishing for Leave ]



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.