The boss of a salmon smokery on Fish Island has netted a seat as an MEP for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the European elections – and says “the will of the people must be honoured”.
Lance Forman, who runs H. Forman & Son from a salmon-shaped building on the edge of the River Lea, was elected as one of eight MEPs in London, where the Brexit Party finished third behind the Lib Dems and Labour with a 17.9 per cent share of the vote.
Forman, who has faced threats locally of a boycott of his products and seen a huge swastika painted on the side of his headquarters since he announced his candidacy, says he and fellow London Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib “will do whatever we can to ensure Brexit is delivered by 31 October”.
The Brexit Party only won a six per cent share of the vote in Hackney, where 78.5 per cent of voters chose Remain in 2016, with the borough swinging towards the Lib Dems and Greens – both firmly opposed to leaving the EU.
Labour still topped local polls, but with a markedly reduced share of the vote compared to the 2014 European elections.
In his victory speech, Forman referred to the swastika incident, saying it was “especially hurtful given that my father came to the UK as an orphaned Holocaust survivor”.
He went on: “But I have to say, if you put the warm messages of love and support I received from across the political spectrum against that one act of hatred, the scale would topple over in an instant. That fills me with hope.”
Forman said the thing that surprised him most on the campaign trail was the number of Remain voters backing the Brexit Party, many of whom, he claims, “felt that following through with the democratic decision was more important than leaving or remaining in the EU”.
He also compared Brexit to the London Olympics, saying: “Back then, all the major political parties, the media, international sporting bodies sponsored by multinational corporates, colluded against the little guys and small businesses in East London, forcing them from their livelihoods to make way for their gains.
“I see a similar pattern today with Brexit – a fierce rearguard attempt to shut out the rest of us.”
Forman concluded by saying the “little people are now rising up against the establishment”, adding: “We will not rest until we have won, and if the new Tory leader is wise, he or she will employ us on the Brexit negotiating team.”
He said the fact that the European elections even took place was a “failure of democracy, and there must be no compromise with democracy, which means we must now leave the EU on 31 October”.
The Liberal Democrats topped the polls in London, winning three seats in the European parliament, ahead of Labour, which now has two MEPs for the city.
The Green Party won a single seat in the capital after finishing fourth.