Wetherspoon boss accuses ‘elite Remainers’ of ignoring gains from no-deal Brexit as pub chain’s profits drop

Tim Martin’s emphasis on what he says will be benefits of leaving without agreement contrasts with warnings by vast majority of UK firms

Olesya Dmitracova
Economics and Business Editor
Friday 13 September 2019 13:09
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The head of JD Wetherspoon, a prominent Brexit supporter, has lambasted “elite Remainers” for ignoring the benefits of a no-deal exit, such as lower costs for businesses, as the pub chain reported a fall in profits and higher costs.

In a break with the vast majority of UK companies, Tim Martin emphasised the advantages of leaving the EU without an agreement, saying it would allow Britain to eliminate import tariffs on over 12,000 non-EU products, including some foods, children’s clothes and car parts.

“Above all, no-deal increases UK democracy – the most powerful economic stimulant,” he said on Friday.

He added: “Elite Remainers are ignoring the ‘big picture’, regarding lower input costs and more democracy, and are mistakenly concentrating on assumed short-term problems, such as potential delays at Channel ports – which are easier to extrapolate on their computer models.”

In comments running over a page long, Mr Martin singled out the MPs and bishops who are either pro-EU or against a no-deal Brexit, pointing out three times that many of them went to Oxbridge.

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg, who are in the opposing camp, all went to Oxford University.

Firms of all sizes overwhelmingly oppose crashing out of the EU, with the main business groups – the CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses – all issuing warnings over the probable consequences.

And last month, the Bank of England governor said less than a fifth of companies surveyed by the bank described themselves as “fully ready” for a no-deal Brexit.

“Businesses [overall] still expect their output, employment and investment to fall by around 1 to 3 per cent over the next year in the event of no deal,” Mark Carney noted, adding to his comments in July that firms also expect costs to go up.

The car industry, which according to Mr Martin would benefit from cheaper car parts, has repeatedly rung the alarm over the damage it would suffer under an abrupt Brexit. Such an outcome would wreak havoc with the sector’s “just in time” supply chains across the English Channel and result in tariffs on exports to the EU.

On Friday, JD Wetherspoon reported a 4.5 per cent fall in pre-tax profit before one-off items in the year to 28 July, even though revenue rose 7.4 per cent. Costs jumped, including a more than 13 per cent rise in spending on wages.

Last week, the pub chain announced a 20p cut in the price of a pint of British-brewed beer in a stunt Mr Martin claimed shows how prices would fall after Brexit.

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