Brexit-backing Wetherspoon boss lashes out at Remainers in company report

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Tim Martin, founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The Brexit-backing chairman of JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L), Tim Martin, used the company’s half-year earnings report to lash out at the “establishment” that supports Britain staying in the EU.

“The vexed debate about Brexit has continued since the referendum, nearly three years ago. 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’,” Martin said in Wetherspoon’s half-year earnings report.

“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.”

Wetherspoon, which is the owner and operator of more than 900 pubs in the UK and Ireland, saw profits tumble by 18.9% to £50.3m ($66.5m) in the six months to 27 January, 2019. Although revenue rose 7.1% to £889.6m ($1.2bn), it was not enough to offset spiralling costs, mainly from labour, which jumped by around £33m.

“As previously indicated, costs in the second half of the year will be higher than those of the same period last year. The company anticipates an unchanged trading outcome for the current financial year,” Martin said.

“Previous referendum results on major constitutional issues have always been respected in the UK, but if parliament votes either 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,” he added.