Tim Martin, chairman of pub company Wetherspoon, has written to 25 Bishops criticising several points in their open letter of 28 August (see Mr Martin’s reply and the Bishops’ letter below).
Mr Martin said: “In saying they have “particular concerns” about a “No Deal Brexit” and that it will have a “massive effect” on the less well-off the Bishops are adopting extreme Remainer arguments.
“Many Leave voters, perhaps a majority of the electorate, believe that we will be better off without a deal – we can save all, or most of, the £39 billion Theresa May offered, we can end import duties on rice, oranges, children’s clothes and thousands of other non-EU products and regain control of fishing – and increase democracy at the same time.
“It is also worrying that the Bishops perpetuate the discredited myth, still prevalent among some elite Remainers, that people voted for Brexit because of “uncertainty and marginalisation”, rather than for reasons which were implicit in the ballot paper.
“Surveys consistently show that Leavers, a diverse group, voted mainly to increase democratic accountability – sometimes called sovereignty.
“The Bishops are, in my opinion, out of touch with the electorate. Like the Oxbridge Remainers, who dominate parliament, two thirds are graduates of those universities.
“The lack of diversity and groupthink of this faction, and their support for the patently undemocratic Brussels system, is a real threat to the UK’s – and indeed humanity’s – future.”
TIM MARTIN’S REPLY
The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds
Dear Bishop Nick,
Many people who voted ‘leave’ in the referendum will agree with your open letter (28/08/19) on the need for truth, reconciliation and the defence of the poor.
However, in saying that “exiting the EU without an agreement is likely to have a massive effect on all our people” and that you have “particular concerns” about the costs of a “No Deal Brexit” you are echoing the views expressed by ’Project Fear Remainers’, which many people, perhaps a majority, feel are discredited.
Your assumption of a “massive cost” is unlikely to be correct since No Deal avoids the legal obligation to pay £39 billion to the EU, as confirmed by the House of Lords in 2017.
It also means that the UK can end protectionist import taxes (tariffs) on rice, bananas, oranges, children’s clothes and over 12,000 other non-EU products – reducing shop prices, which is of particular benefit to those on low incomes.
The UK will also regain control of fishing waters and will benefit from increased democratic accountability – both these factors, many of us believe, will lead to an improved economic outcome.
You also say that “fear, uncertainty and marginalisation…lies behind the vote for Brexit.” Surveys consistently show that this view, widely held by “Oxbridge Remainers”, who dominate much of the media and politics, is completely wrong.
The main reason for the Leave vote was, in reality, a desire to regain democratic control from the increasingly undemocratic EU, with its five unelected presidents, it’s MEPs who cannot initiate legislation and its court which is not answerable to any elected government.
The truth is that the Brussels regime has removed substantial democratic power from voters throughout the EU – and has caused great economic hardship, especially in southern Europe.
The great anxiety for many many people is that those in elite positions in society have been complicit in the loss of democracy and appear oblivious to the obvious dangers.
Thank you for your attention.