- Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has printed 500,000 pro-Brexit beer mats.
- The mats say “big business” leaders have “tried to fool the public” on the referendum vote by lying about higher food prices.
- The other side of the beer mat calls for an EU deal which “saves Britain’s fish” by reclaiming fishing rights from other EU countries.
- Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin is an outspoken Brexit supporter.
LONDON – Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has issued 500,000 pro-Brexit beermats accusing business chiefs of lying to the public about rising food prices.
Drinkers at its 893 UK pubs will soon see messages claiming that “big business” leaders, including Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler, have “tried to fool the public” by suggesting food prices will rise if the UK fails to arrange a trade deal with the EU when it leaves the bloc in 2019.
“It’s not true – the EU imposes high tariffs on non-EU food imports, which keeps prices high,” the text on the mat reads. “Don’t be misled by scare stories and delays – leave the EU in March 2019.”
The words echo the arguments of JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin, who has used his high profile to campaign for a hard Brexit which would see Britain leave the EU in March 2019 without a transition phase.
Martin said in a release announcing the beer mats: “The CBI, most boardrooms, and economists got it wrong over the exchange rate, the euro, and the effect of a ‘leave’ vote.
“The latest big business scare story is that the UK needs a ‘deal’ with the EU to avoid a ‘cliff edge.’ Senior business people have repeatedly said that food prices will rise dramatically without one.
“This is the reverse of the truth… These business leaders should be ashamed of their naked attempt to mislead the public,” he said.
Martin’s suggestion that leaving the EU without a deal would lower food prices is disputed by experts. Samuel Lowe, campaign lead for Brexit and trade policy at Friends of the Earth, told Business Insider in November that leaving the EU could “in theory” lower prices. But he said leaving without a deal would represent a “bonkers strategy”, citing a research paper that suggests pro-Brexit arguments for a “no deal” strategy are flawed.
‘Save Britain’s fish’
The reverse of the mat calls on the government to “reclaim rights to the UK’s historic fishing grounds” by leaving the EU without a transitional deal in March 2019.
The mat says: “A transitional deal delays leaving and allows EU boats to continue catching 60% of the UK’s fish.”
The UK government would struggle to strike a free trade deal with the EU if it does not allow continued access to its waters to EU fishermen, meaning such an approach is unlikely.
Wetherspoons has distributed pro-Brexit beer mats to its pubs twice previously. In May 2016, a month before the referendum, it distributed 200,000 mats that attacked International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde for supporting the Remain campaign.
In November this year, the chain issued 500,000 mats featuring “The Wetherspoon manifesto,” which detailed policies it said should be adopted by the UK government.
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