Brexit backing Wetherspoons boss blames Remainers after 20% dip in profits
Brexit-supporting pub boss Tim Martin has blamed Remainers – after profits at his Wetherspoon pub chain dipped by almost 20%.
Mr Martin, a prominent Leave campaigner and supporter, said ‘Elite Remainers’ were failing to see the long-term benefits of Brexit after company profits fell by 19%.
His comments sparked an angry backlash with customers calling for a boycott of the chain which has several pubs in both Sheffield and Doncaster.
The firm reported falling annual profits in the face of higher costs, but the firm has also seen a hike in sales, which Mr Martin said was down to pub-goers shrugging off Brexit uncertainty.
The group - which has more than 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland - reported a 4.5 per cent fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £102.5 million for the 52 weeks to July 28.
Results were hampered by property costs, as well as increased wage bills and a programme to refurbish and open new pubs.
Chairman and founder Mr Martin said: "Wetherspoon continues to perform well.
"We currently anticipate a reasonable outcome for the current financial year, subject to our future sales performance."
Wetherspoon knocked 20p off the cost of a pint of beer last week in nearly 700 of its pubs, calling it an example of how leaving the customs union with the EU can reduce prices.
Mr Martin says leaving the EU on October 31 would allow the Government to end "protectionist tariffs", which he maintained would reduce prices in pubs and supermarkets.
He said: "Elite Remainers are ignoring the 'big picture', regarding lower input costs and more democracy, and are mistakenly concentrating on assumed short-term problems, such as potential delays at Channel ports - which are easier to extrapolate on their computer models."
And he believes partying pub-goers will send bar sales soaring on October 31 if the UK leaves the EU - with or without a deal.
He said: "I think sales will jump dramatically in our pubs if we leave the EU - even if we leave the EU without a deal on October 31.
"People will be so pleased that we've left and I think even people who don't want to leave will think 'thank god we've left and can talk about something else'."
"People will be break-dancing in the streets. It will make the Queen's Jubilee in 1977 look like a vicar's tea party."
However, his comments saw #BoycottWetherspoons trending on Twitter and provoked an angry reaction.
One person tweeted: "Maybe alienating half of your potential customers isn't a good idea."
And another said: "I will NEVER set foot in a Wetherspoons again."
And one wrote: "Bloke who owns pubs spends three years slagging off half the population then wonders why his profits are plummeting. I'm not even officially boycotting 'Spoons, I just don't go in them coz they're s***e."