A BOAT tour operator and part-time fisherman says his business’ expansion has the Prime Minister’s backing after MP Anna Firth urged him to “have his say”.

Angus Browne, who owns Browne’s Thames Estuary Boat Trips, was ushered over by the Southend West MP while she introduced the Prime Minister to business owners in Old Leigh yesterday.

The spontaneous audience with Rishi Sunak came shortly after the Prime Minister was quizzed by councillors and schoolchildren in a question-and-answer session at the Hatch. 
Mr Sunak visited the town to speak to fishermen following the “incredible” discovery of rare shellfish in the Thames Estuary.

Angus provides boat tours of the estuary and has been supported by Ms Firth in his plans to construct a pontoon at Old Leigh port, to help expand his business and collect more passengers “safely”.

He described his “brief” chat with the Prime Minister as “100 per cent valuable”.
Angus added: “Anna was very good to me. She grabbed me and introduced me to Rishi. She said, ‘tell him what you want’, so I did.

“As Prime Minister, I’m sure he’s got a million things going on in his brain. But it’s good to know Anna is behind me and trying to help make the pontoon plan happen.”

Angus says building a pontoon would help tourists in wheelchairs or with reduced mobility access boat trips better, and Mr Sunak responded by saying it was a “fantastic idea”.

He added: “Investment for Old Leigh port would be fantastic. There are a lot of people who want to see the boat trips grow, but there are so many people who need better accessibility.”

Ms Firth said: “98 per cent of businesses in my constituency are small or micro businesses, meaning they have up to nine employees. They make up the vast bulk of businesses in Southend West, but they’re the backbone of the local economy.

“I wanted to introduce Angus to the Prime Minister as somebody with a small business who wants to do more with it. 

“Angus wants to expand but needs a jetty to get people onto his boats, but building one is easier said than done.

“The Prime Minister thought it was a fantastic idea. He was sure that I, as his MP, would be able to help him do that.”