JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin is ranting about Brexit again

Most people will simply shrug, and it's true that it would usually be best to ignore him, were it not for the fact that there are people who think like him either in, or close to, power

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The Independent Online

You’ve probably heard the proverb “empty vessels make the most noise”. If true, it must mean that Tim Martin has little more than hot air between his ears. 

As usual, the creator of the unbelievably crass Brexit beermat campaign has taken the opportunity of a JD Wetherspoon trading update to indulge in an ill disciplined rant.

It is aimed at those who think sailing the UK off into Atlantic until it hits Iceland isn’t the cleverest policy idea in the wake of the Brexit vote. 

It’s actually kind of funny when he accuses Jean Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, of posturing. In so doing, he's lobbing boulders from his glass (public) house. 

However, his greatest ire is saved for CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn, and it’s then that he descends to the level of that beermat stunt. 

Ms Fairbairn recently (sensibly) said that that the UK leaving the EU negotiating table without a deal shouldn’t be plan B but plan Z. By the way, she was representing the views of the majority in British business. 

Not Mr Martin, of course. “It is doubtful if Ms Fairbairn has ever been involved in serious business negotiations herself, since this is the same as a housebuyer saying to a seller, 'I must have your house at any cost’,” he snarled. “In this case the buyer will not pay the market price, but will pay the maximum that the seller believes he can afford.”

Ms Fairbairn, of course, has been involved in serious business negotiations, regularly, during a glittering career. The former McKinseyite, went on to become director of strategy at ITV, and also launched the hugely successful Freeview service. She can point to a lot more in terms of her acheivements than just a Brexit beermat. There aren’t many people in Briton who boast a more distinguished CV. 

Mr Martin’s prescription for Britain’s future, involving walking away from the EU in favour of trading on WTO terms, would impose huge extra tariffs on companies that (unlike his) rely on exports, which the UK badly needs to encourage given its yawning trade gap.

He suggests that the UK should “possibly” offer tariff free access to its markets to all comers, without any reciprocal arrangements. It would make imports cheap, and might benefit his business. But it would cripple the economy in the process.  

To follow his lead by using an analogy, it would be like him offering free access to his pubs to any brewer without first agreeing to terms. What, you want a bulk purchase discount? Sorry, bud, you said free access to your pubs so you can whistle. Of course, it'd be a million years before Mr Martin adopted such a strategy, and yet he seems to be advocating it for the country in which he lives.

Mercifully, Mr Martin has very little power outside of the pub trade. While he’s proved he knows a thing or two about running hostelries, for the most part his tirades elicit only shrugs. Oh dear, is he at it again? Tell you what, there’s a Fuller’s five minutes away, and the beer’s better there. 

The scary thing about living in modern Britain, however, is that there are people who either do have real power, or are close to it, who think like him, are equally stupid, and care nothing for the price their madness will impose upon every man, woman and child in this nation. 

Mr Martin is a wealthy individual, so he can afford to pay it. The rest of us aren’t so lucky, doubly so our children, whose opportunities these people are suffocating.