“Shambles,” said James Cole, a fisherman here for 35 years.
“Can’t lead. She’s made a total mess of things from the start.”
These men spend most of their working days at sea, but they’re seriously informed about all things Brexit. They said, it’s personal.
“I have my son aboard my boat as well as my brother,” Cole said. “And I would like to see a future in the fishing industry for them.”
Richard Brewer, 62, is another lifelong Whitby fisherman who works a boat with his two sons. He said he’s watched every key parliamentary vote.
“We hope that through this we can take back control of our own waters and our destiny.”
“We must have control of other vessels that come into our areas,” Brewer said. “And that’s one of the cornerstones I hope May does continue fighting for.”
“It’s as expected. The government (is) clueless and should show some balls and push for no deal ASAP,” he said.
That combination of history, beauty and charm mean tourism is a big earner here, especially in summer. So not everyone agrees with the fishermen about Brexit being good for the town.
Graham Collinson manages holiday homes in Whitby. He said he’s already having trouble attracting staff from Europe.
We meet Collinson and old friend, retiree Steve Hartley, braving the North Sea winds outside Clara’s Cafe.
Both are seething and incredulous that it’s come to this: Brexit (for the moment) still imminent and the government without an approved plan.
“I think it’s disgraceful and everyone should be sacked,” Collinson said. “It’s a complete mess. It’s poorly executed, never going to come to a happy conclusion. We’re being led by a bunch of idiots.”
Hartley is a retiree who’s worried about what all this disorganization will mean for younger generations.
“It’s inevitable whether it’s last night’s vote, tonight’s vote, tomorrow’s vote, it’s the same politics; they’re not concerned about us,” he said. “How can we be a fortnight away and we don’t know what’s going to happen?”
You smell Fortune’s Kippers minutes before you find it on a narrow-cobbled road. (Kippers are smoked herring — and Brits eat them for breakfast.)
Inside the smoker, Barry Brown is hanging up row after row of herring just as his great-great grandfather did when he started the business in 1872.
Brown’s response to the Brexit mess, given recent political experience, is touchingly optimistic. He wants Parliament to come together behind the Prime Minister for the good of the country.
“Let’s get it out of the way. And get on with things,” he said. “Get positive. The politicians get together and work together a bit and let’s push on forward. I think we can do it.”