Boris Johnson delivered his press conference on Christmas Eve, outlining the Brexit trade deal that will separate the EU and UK, while wearing a tie with a subtle fish motif in a nod to one of the dominant issues of the tortuous negotiations.
Despite Britain’s fishing industry being responsible for only 0.1% of the country’s GDP, it became symbolic of a desire by leave voters to “take back control”.
Many had complained that successive years of overfishing by EU countries and the quota system had hurt the industry.
In Johnson’s announcement, he stressed the “prodigious” increase in fishing catches he said the UK would now be allowed to keep.
Downing Street agreed to terms that would see 25% of the catch by value of European fleets in UK waters “repatriated”.
Yet Barrie Deas, the head of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said the prime minister had considered fish expendable, adding his industry would be “bitterly disappointed” that European fisherman were still allowed within 12 miles of the British coast.
It is not the first time during the Brexit debate that public figures’ clothing has seemed to be a comment on the issues.
When Lady Hale sat down to deliver the supreme court’s ruling on whether Johnson proroguing parliament in 2019 was legal, many people’s eyes were drawn to the silver spider that seemed to be crawling up her shoulder.
The brooch was thought to be a coded signal that the prime minister was trapped by the court’s ruling his move was illegal. T-shirts with the design on raised more than £5,000 for Shelter in the hours after her announcement.
During the state opening of parliament after the 2017 general election, the Queen wore a lilac hat with several flowers on, with blue petals and yellow centres. Some immediately drew a parallel to the EU flag with Brexit going on to dominate Theresa May’s premiership.
Away from Brexit, in the US the first lady, Melania Trump, was seen sporting a coat bearing the slogan “I really don’t care. Do U?” on the back, as her husband increasingly faced criticism.
Despite initial denials – and claims that it was “just a jacket” – Melania later said in an interview that it “was a kind of message, yes”.