UKIP MEP for North-west England, Paul Nuttall, attacked the directive, claiming it would cripple tourism after the Environment Agency (EA) warned that new regulations being brought in by the EU are up to twice as strict as current requirements.

This could mean that more than 50 of England’s beaches are at risk of being categorised as unsafe for swimming.

“We already have strict standards in this country but no, bureaucrats in Brussels have to interfere and in doing so put at risk an integral part of our tourist industry,” said Nuttall.

“Twenty of those beaches are in my constituency [North-west England] and I am very concerned that unless water quality is improved in time, tourism, which plays a big role in the local economy, will be badly hit,” he added

However, in a posting, called “Let them eat shit, says UKIP’s Paul Nuttall”, his rival North-west MEP, Davies described Nuttall’s warning as “bullshit”.

Davies, who is the Liberal Democrat spokesman on the environment in Brussels, said: “The EU law is about giving information on water quality. It would be up to British authorities to decide whether swimming is dangerous. To claim that the EU has the power to take such measures is simply a UKIP lie.”

Davies added that each year more North-west holidaymakers swim in the Mediterranean than the Irish Sea.

He said: “If UKIP get their way British travellers can expect to experience the shits a great deal more often.

“Contaminated sea water is a major cause of vomiting and diarrhoea, and people should have a right to know about water quality.”

The MEP said that EU Bathing Water legislation had driven up standards and led to huge improvements in water quality across Europe.

“By keeping people in the dark, UKIP will keep holiday makers confined to their bathrooms instead of enjoying themselves on the beach,” he added.

Conor McGlone

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