JD Wetherspoon boss and Brexit campaigner Tim Martin has accused economists of spreading “myths” and insisted food prices will fall if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
As the pub firm released its latest financial results, Martin expressed exasperation towards “economists, business organisations and universities”, which he said had made “extremely pessimistic forecasts” about Brexit.
He continued: “By refusing to acknowledge the fact that food prices will be reduced, post Brexit, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and parliament votes to eliminate taxes which are currently imposed on non-EU food imports, the CBI and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) are trying to fool the public and MPs and bringing business into disrepute.
“These factually incorrect scare stories seem to be designed to convince the public that a deal is necessary to avoid a ‘cliff edge’. In fact, the cliff edge is a myth. There is almost no action needed, for most companies, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Provided that parliament takes sensible steps, such as the elimination of food taxes, the public will benefit from lower food prices, from regained fishing rights and from savings of about £200m per week of EU contributions.”
JD Wetherspoon saw like-for-like sales increase by 6% in the 12 weeks to 21 January 2018.
However Martin expressed concern about the second half of 2018 as the industry faces “significant costs which include labour, business rates and the sugar tax”.
Since the start of the financial year, Wetherspoon has opened three pubs and sold 10. It also spent £15m on the freeholds of pubs, which they were previously tenanted, and bought back £51m of shares.
The pub firm aims to open 10 more pubs before the end of the current financial year.