In the lead up to what is seen as the most important parliamentary debate and vote in a generation Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin shares his “Brexit” views with CLH readers:
Brigid Simmonds, CEO of the BBPA, told the pub trade press (3 December) that “a no deal Brexit should be avoided at all costs.”
A deal at all costs has indeed been the approach of Theresa May in her Brexit negotiations.
As a result, a very bad deal indeed is on the table, as almost everyone now seems to realise.
In contrast to the Euromania of organisations like the BBPA, the CBI and the Financial Times, most individual licensees appear to understand that the UK will be much better off by embracing no deal – enabling the UK to become a champion of free trade.
Free trade means that we avoid paying ransom money of £39 billion to the EU – £600 for every single person in the UK, or £2,400 for a family of four.
If you expect your customers to spend more in your pub, once they’ve paid that sort of bill next year, you should apply for a job at the Treasury, since they share your surreal view of economics.
Since I made the same point on Question Time last week, a number of commentators have said that the UK will have to pay £39 billion anyway, even if there’s no deal with the EU.
In fact, that is nonsense, as parliament has made clear. The House of Lords European Union Committee (4 March, 2017) said the UK would be subject to “no enforceable obligation to make any financial contribution at all” on leaving the EU- a view which has not been seriously disputed
Another advantage of no deal/free trade is that it allows the UK to abolish tariffs, otherwise known as taxes, on imports from non-EU countries.
Each and every pub and restaurant customer in the UK pays these invisible tariffs, usually without knowing it, on items like rice, coffee, bananas, oranges, Antipodean wine and over 12,000 other products.
Many commentators have assumed that the abolition of tariffs would result in a hole in government income, but this is not true, since tariffs are currently collected by the UK government and sent to Brussels.
So, ending tariffs means shop prices go down, boosting disposable income – manna from heaven for pubs and restaurants.
A further benefit of no deal/free trade is that it allows the UK to regain control of its fishing waters, where 60% of the catch today is landed by EU boats.
Owning 100% of an oil well is more profitable than owning 40%, and exactly the same thing applies to control of our own coastal waters.
Finally, free trade increases democracy in the UK, since all decisions will be taken by MPs we have elected, rather than by the unelected apparatchiks of the EU and their unaccountable courts, which are not subject to democratic control.
And we know from history that democracy always helps economic progress – compare North to South Korea, or democratic North America to the troubled South.
Followers of the Brexit debate will have noted thousands of references to no deal as a ‘cliff edge’, or some other vertigo-inducing image from a Bruce Willis film. It is now undeniable, however, that the cliff edge doesn’t exist.
On day one, 29 March next year, our customers will be better off and the economic steroids of democracy will give us the best chance of a free and prosperous future – provided we avoid the manacles of Theresa May’s wretched deal.
Meanwhile, the CBI, the BBPA, the Food & Drink Federation and the idle occupants of many big board rooms spout the same cliff-edge nonsense.
Shame on them all. Let’s follow the well-trodden free-trade path of successful economies like New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Singapore – and shake off the mental chains which have imprisoned so many of our leaders for so long.