Wetherspoon chair warns of Brexit U-turn consequences

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has expressed concern that Brexit may be reversed, a move he said would have “significantly adverse economic consequences”.

Martin’s comments accompanied the UK pub chain’s half-year results for the 26 weeks to 27 January 2019, which were released today (15 March).

Profits before tax at JD Wetherspoon, which boasts more than 900 venues across the UK, fell 18.9% in the six months to £50.3 million (down from £62m in 2018).

Revenue increase 7.1% to £889.6m and like-for-like sales rose 6.3%.

The drop in profit during the period was attributed to higher wages, which added £33m to overall costs, as well as repairs (£3.7m), utilities (£2.5m), interest (£3.3m) and depreciation (£2.4m).

Martin has made his pro-Brexit views publicly known over the last few years. In September 2018, the British pub chain revealed it would stop serving German herbal liqueur Jägermeister and a range of Cognacs in the lead up to Brexit, replacing them with UK and non-EU-made spirits.

“The vexed debate about Brexit has continued since the referendum, nearly three years ago,” said Martin in his statement accompanying the H1 results. “Although the public voted to leave, the majority of ‘the establishment’, including most MPs, most universities, the Bank of England, the CBI and media organisations such as The Times, the Financial Times and The Economist favoured ‘remain’.

“The result has been a barrage of negative economic forecasts from those quarters, predicting that the UK will go to hell in a handcart without a ‘deal’ with the EU – which will effectively tie the country into EU membership and taxation, yet without representation.

“The doomsters ignore the most powerful nexus in economics, between democracy and prosperity – and the fact that the EU is becoming progressively less democratic, as it pursues an ‘ever-closer union”, for which there is no public consensus.

“Previous referendum results on major constitutional issues have always been respected in the UK, but if parliament votes for Theresa May’s ‘deal’ (which keeps us in the EU by the back door) or to remain in the EU, the referendum result will not have been respected.

“This may well have significantly adverse economic consequences, as the country turns in on itself to endure months, or years, of stifling constitutional argument.”

On Wednesday (13 March), MPs voted to reject a ‘no-deal’ Brexit by 321 votes to 278.

Miles Beale, chief executive officer of the WSTA, supported the MPs’ rejection of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, and said an extension to Article 50 was “necessary under all scenarios”.

On Thursday night (14 March), MPs voted to delay Article 50, which passed by 413 votes to 202.

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Author: Melita Kiely {authorlink}