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Wetherspoons' NI-born boss adds £44m to his fortune as shares jump after Tory win

Tim Martin

He may have thrown his support behind Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party, who failed to win a single seat in the general election, but one Northern Ireland man was £44m richer yesterday.

With the stock market soaring following the result, shares in Wetherspoons jumped nearly 10% by lunchtime yesterday, meaning Belfast-born boss Tim Martin's 32% stake is now worth £531m.

On Thursday night it was worth £487m, meaning - on paper at least - the outspoken Brexiteer saw his fortune jump by £44m.

A Wetherspoons share is now worth 1,619p, up from 1,482p.

Boris Johnson's decisive win boosted the pound and sent shares in a number of UK companies soaring on the hopes that uncertainty around Brexit will now fade away.

Mr Martin has been one of the few business leaders to speak in support of Brexit - putting him at odds with the majority of other companies, who continue to warn that the new government must provide clarity on the future relationship with the EU.

Using his Wetherspoons magazine to put forward his case for Brexit, the pub group also spent £94,856 on Brexit beer mats and other publications.

The boss also vowed to remove EU drinks from menus - although favourite tipples including Guinness from Ireland and Prosecco from Italy are expected to stay.

Earlier this week, Wetherspoons also announced plans to invest more than £200m in pubs and hotels over the next four years, creating around 10,000 jobs. New pubs and hotels will be opened, and existing pubs across the UK and the Republic will be enlarged.

The firm has performed well since the June 2016 referendum after an initial share price blip that saw £30m wiped off the value of Mr Martin's stake.

At the time, Mr Martin said that any losses were short-term and unrelated to the referendum.

"No sensible analyst could attribute the price drop to this one event specifically," he said. "If you try and judge fluctuations in prices day-to-day all that will happen is you'll go completely mad and need a heavy dose of Valium."

That assessment has proved to be correct. Wetherspoon has doubled in value since then, adding more than £250m to Mr Martin's personal wealth.

Belfast Telegraph