JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin attacks Brexit ‘misinformation’ from business leaders and the media

Tim Martin, chairman and founder of pubs group Wetherspoon, attends an interview with Reuters at the Metropolitan Bar in London

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Tim Martin, chairman and founder of pubs group Wetherspoon, attends an interview with Reuters at the Metropolitan Bar in London
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Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

    Tim Martin campaigned vocally for Brexit before the referendum. Wetherspoons founder said business directors are making “factually incorrect and highly misleading” statements about leaving the European Union. The pub group said its fiscal year had a positive start but warned costs were “significantly higher than last year.”

LONDON – Tim Martin, chairman of pub chain JD Wetherspoon, criticised media outlets and business groups on Wednesday for spreading “misinformation” about Brexit.

Martin, who campaigned vocally for Brexit before the referendum, said in a quarterly Wetherspoons trading update that business leaders are making “factually incorrect and highly misleading” statements about leaving the European Union. He also criticised the media for repeating these statements.

“A key issue for investors and the public is the impact of Brexit on the economy,” he said.

“Statements have been made by some senior PLC directors and trade organisations which are factually incorrect and highly misleading. Unsurprisingly, the misinformation has been adopted by many among the media, investors and the public, as if it were true.”

He cited the example of Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler saying that a deal with the EU was necessary to avoid higher prices after Brexit.

Martin said this was “untrue,” and said that leaving the bloc without a transitional deal in March 2019 would, in fact, allow the UK to lower food prices.

“Wetherspoon calculates that this approach would reduce the average cost of a meal by about 3.5 pence and the cost of a drink by 0.5 pence,” Martin said.

READ MORE: Tesco CEO: Ex-Sainsbury boss is wrong on Brexit – but ‘no deal’ could push up food prices

The group said its fiscal year had a “positive start” but warned costs were “significantly higher than last year.”

It said sales were up 6.1% in the three months to October 29, beating analyst FactSet’s 4.7% expectations. Shares climbed 0.72% by 8:51 a.m. GMT (3.52 a.m. ET).

In September last year, Martin suggested the UK doesn’t need to sign a trade deal with the European Union because his pubs don’t sign deals with suppliers.

“Wetherspoon’s experience indicates that reaching formal trade deals with reluctant counterparties is impossible – and it is unwise to try,” he said.