Tim Martin, chairman of pub company Wetherspoon, has issued a video on-line, to rebut criticisms of comments he made in support of ‘no deal’ on BBC’s Question Time.
Mr Martin said:
“Mike Galsworthy, who represents an academic pressure group called ‘Scientists for EU’, and who is campaigning for a second referendum, has put a video on-line which contains serious errors of fact regarding the implications of Brexit.
“He states, for example, that the £39billion payment, proposed in Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, is in respect of a ‘debt’ to the EU.
“As most people understand, a debt implies there is a legal obligation to pay.
“However, as the House of Lords European Unity Committee explicitly stated on 4 March 2017 : “…we conclude that if agreement is not reached….. the UK would be subject to no enforceable obligation to make any financial contribution at all”.
“It is alarming that a campaign group, representing highly qualified scientists, can get basic facts so abjectly wrong.
“Bizarrely, Mr Galsworthy also argues that the UK will be no better off by regaining control of its fishing grounds post-Brexit, since we won’t be able to sell our fish to the EU.
”At the moment, 60% of fish in UK waters are landed by EU boats. It’s unrealistic to say that the demand for the fish will evaporate in future, if they are landed by UK boats.
”In any event, UK fishermen are almost unanimous in their view that regaining control of fishing waters will be a benefit.
“Mr Galsworthy then says, or implies, that consumers won’t benefit from the elimination of protectionist EU tariffs, since oranges, for example, can be bought tariff-free, at certain times of the year from South Africa.
“As most people will understand, this is an absurd argument, since giving Spain a monopoly of oranges in the summer and South Africa a monopoly in the winter, for example, does not amount to ‘free trade’.
“If we open our market for oranges, processed coffee, rice, wine, children’s clothes and shoes, and over 12,000 other products, prices will go down in shops, pubs and restaurants. Many tariffs apply to goods which aren’t even grown or produced in the UK, of course.
“I’ve taken the unusual step of producing a video to contradict the lazy arguments of Mr Galsworthy and Scientists for EU.
“Students contemplating study in the UK will be alarmed at the sectarianism and careless use of facts from a group of people who should know better.“