The founder and chairman of pub chain Wetherspoon has called Theresa May’s Brexit deal “terrible” and said that the Government should have published full legal advice on the deal.
Tim Martin, who is in favour of leaving the European Union without a deal, said that given the Government’s campaign is based on its legal advice, there was no “sustainable argument” to keep it from the public.
Mr Martin was visiting Beckett’s Bank in Leeds as part of his whistlestop tour to sell the idea of ‘Hard Brexit’ to Wetherspoon customers.
He believes that the EU doesn’t have a future unless it “becomes more democratic” and Mr Martin says he would support the UK being part of a free trading common market.
“I don’t think it’s got a future unless it returns to the status of a common market, which we would all support,” he said.
Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, recently warned that food prices would go up between 5 and 10 per cent in the event of a disorderly Brexit.
The Bank of England says the price rises would come partly as a result of a fall in the value of the pound, partly from tariffs and partly from increased costs of import checks at the border.
Mr Martin dismissed the claims of delays at the border as a “scare story”.
He said: “There are no hold ups at the border for non-EU countries so I can’t see why the EU joining the same status as America, China and India, where there are no queues, should result in queues.” However, he did concede that it was possible that there might be “some temporary hold-ups” if there is ill will between the EU and the UK following Brexit.
The value of the pound has taken a pummelling since the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016 and experts have warned that it could take a further hit in the event of a hard Brexit.
Mr Martin though says that the pound could go up or down regardless and was an “automatic stabiliser”.
He added: “If it goes down, yes some import prices can go up but it also means that manufacturing exporters do better and also tourism does better.”
Some politicians are pushing for a People’s Vote on the implementation of Brexit, with a ballot containing all three options – Remain, Hard Brexit and the PM’s deal.
But Mr Martin is against the idea as he believes the Government has to implement the decision to leave the EU first. “Theresa May hasn’t prioritised leaving,” he said. “She has prioritised and put all her energy into the deal.”
Mr Martin added: “We had a ballot in 1975 and that decision was put into effect. We had one in 2014 in Scotland. That decision was adhered to. We had one in the UK in 2016 and you have to implement what it said on the ballot paper.”
The ardent Brexiteer has also called for Britain to reject the £39bn divorce bill – a mixture of a contribution to the EU budget until 2020 and liabilities. He said that the UK was under no legal obligation to pay the £39bn settlement.
When pressed on whether there was a moral obligation, Mr Martin said: “I don’t think you’ve got a moral obligation if you’re being bullied. If they want to offer a free trade deal, which mostly benefits the EU rather than the UK, fine. I don’t see the need to pay ransom money. I think it’s come about as a result of a weak Prime Minister.”
Mr Martin intends to visit 100 Wetherspoon pubs across the UK over the next two months on his Brexit tour.
Call to Trade on WTO terms
Tim Martin is in favour of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal and trading to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
Critics of Brexit say there’s no way of telling what tariff barriers other countries will put up and this could make life harder for British exporters.
“There are a lot of things for a start, we don’t produce in this country, where there are tariffs,” the chairman of Wetherspoon said.
He claims that the UK could eliminate a lot of tariff barriers and that “it’s only a gain for UK consumers and businesses”.
Wetherspoon itself has recently pivoted away from European brands such as Jagermeister.