US President Donald Trump's man in the UK visiting Grimsby today to talk all about fish
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 22 Mar 2019
The US ambassador will visit Grimsby today to discuss all things seafood related.
President Donald Trump’s man in the UK, Woody Johnson, is scheduled to visit the Humber on Friday to talk about trading opportunities that exist for Grimsby’s seafood processing industry, both now and after Brexit.
His team said he would be visiting multiple venues in the town which were linked to Grimsby's fishing sector.
A spokesman for the American ambassador said: “His visit is focused on the opportunities that exist and might exist between the UK and the USA now and with a free trade agreement.”
Mr Johnson – who is also the owner of the American Football team the New York Jets – met with North East Lincolnshire MPs Melanie Onn and Martin Vickers for breakfast at his plush residence in North London, Winfield House, on Tuesday to learn more about the town before his visit.
Grimsby MP Melanie Onn (inside left) pictured next to Us Ambassador Woody Johnson, with Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers pictured centre (Image: Submitted)
The Republican Party major donor has lined up meetings with seafood industry figures such as Bill Showalter, Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood, and is also due to visit current and past venues associated with the fishing industry.
Young’s already exports its products to the USA and Great Grimsby MP Ms Onn said the ambassador’s visit could open up more avenues for such companies.
Ms Onn said: “Young’s were entering that market last year so we talked about that to the ambassador and said, as far as the American market was concerned, that was the kind of thing he would be looking for rather than for us to try to compete on fresh fish with Iceland.
“It is about explaining that and showing companies how they can access the US market, either now or in the future when things become clearer.”
Not all of Mr Johnson’s ideas will be to the liking of residents on the south bank of the Humber, having previously expressed support for a post-Brexit free trade deal between the US and UK to include exporting chlorine-washed chicken to British supermarkets. He recently penned an article for the Mail on Sunday newspaper on the topic.
“He said Americans eat it, so why can’t British people eat it?” said Ms Onn. “He said it was up to us to change and pointed out that we already wash our salad with chlorine.”
But – despite the difference of opinion on food preparation – the Labour frontbench politician said the visit was more “positive” news for Grimsby, following the Prime Minister’s recent visit to talk up the town and the Government’s announcement of a sector deal for offshore wind.
Interesting morning with @OnnMel MP, @MartinVickers MP and leaders in the #Grimbsy & #Hull fishing and maritime industry – lots discussed, including the future of the fishing industry, and how we can expand U.S.-UK trade. I’m looking forward to visiting the region soon! pic.twitter.com/L6Yn2nlEOD— Ambassador Johnson (@USAmbUK) March 19, 2019
Business Secretary Greg Clark also announced this week that he will be visiting Grimsby to reveal the next stage of funding for the town deal, with a skills centre linked to Lincoln University set to be unveiled.
Ms Onn said: “It is a good thing to have the ambassador coming to Grimsby. It rounds off a strong period for the town, with the focus being on our area for positive reasons. The hard work being put in here is starting to pay-off.”
Tory Cleethorpes MP Mr Vickers said he “welcomed an interesting exchange about Brexit” at the ambassador’s residence this week.
Other officials who joined the MPs for breakfast at Winfield House – set in 12-acres of grounds in Regents Parks – included Seafish’s corporate relations director Hazel Curtis and an aide from the Department of Environment, Food, Rural Affairs (Defra).