Belfast Telegraph

New pub beermats claim industry will benefit from pullout

By Alan Jones

Leading pub operator JD Wetherspoon has issued a new beer mat highlighting its support for the British fishing industry and accusing business leaders of "misleading" the public on Brexit.

Half a million beer mats will be distributed in Wetherspoon's 893 pubs across the UK, bearing the message that big business has tried to "fool" the public by saying food prices will rise without a deal with the EU.

They also state that when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, Parliament can reclaim rights to the UK's fishing grounds, ending EU policies which have "devastated" many coastal communities.

Wetherspoon chairman, NI-born Tim Martin, said: "The latest big business scare story is that the UK needs a 'deal' with the EU to avoid a 'cliff edge'.

"Senior business people have repeatedly said that food prices will rise dramatically without one.

"This is the reverse of the truth. Parliament can eliminate the tariffs the EU currently charges on food.

"This will reduce prices, provided the UK avoids a deal and reverts to World Trade Organisation rules.

"These business leaders should be ashamed of their naked attempt to mislead the public."

Mr Martin has admitted the future success of Britain's economy will rely on inward immigration which he said was a "good thing" for the country.

He said he did not deny that immigration benefits the UK, but he was keen to see it come under domestic control and ensure it is "subject to the will of the people".

"Immigration is a good thing but you don't need to give your democracy away to get what you want," he told the BBC's Desert Island Discs programme.

"You need a slightly rising population as the years go by to have a successful economy and a successful country."

He said an Australian-style "points system" would still help make up for a low birth rate in Britain.

The pubs chain employs between 2,000 and 3,000 staff from other EU countries, reflecting the high number of foreign nationals that help run the UK's bars and restaurants, which are expected to suffer if access to foreign workers is restricted as a result of Brexit.

Mr Martin also issued beer mats across Wetherspoon's near-900 UK pubs featuring a bespoke 'manifesto' for a successful Brexit, including the right of citizenship for EU migrants.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.