Before the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, there was no more vocal champion for the out campaign within the business community that Tim Martin, who runs the J D Wetherspoon pub chain, known for its rock-bottom prices, wide range of beer, wines, spirits and food, tightness with wages, and permanent staff shortage which entails having to sup rapidly before spending far too long queuing for a refill.
Tim Martin - facing a proper haircut
Brexit was going to be such a wonderful thing, he told anyone prepared to listen. So now that he’s finding the going less than amenable, he’s moaning and blaming someone else, as the Guardian has told: “The chairman of JD Wetherspoon has fired a warning shot that the pub chain could stop selling drinks brands from other European countries if senior EU leaders maintain a ‘bullying’ approach to Brexit negotiations”.
Like, er, what? “I don’t think Wetherspoon or British buyers are in a weak position because we can switch from Swedish cider to British cider”. Who is this Swedish cider? Does he mean Rekorderlig or Kopparberg? Because if he knew what he was talking about, he would know that THEY ARE NOT CIDER. They are, as Pete Brown pointed out some time back, alcopops. Boss of pub chain doesn’t know what he’s selling no shock horror.
But on he blusters: “If we, and companies like ours, are unable to agree on tariff-free transactions, it will inevitably result in a loss of business for European companies … The ultimate sanction will be in the hands of UK consumers, should they take offence at the hectoring and bullying approach of Juncker and co. French wine, champagne and spirits, German beer and Swedish cider, for example, are all at extreme risk”.
Well, whoopee-do. Quite apart from Martin’s assertion that “According to press reports, Juncker told European business leaders in October not to negotiate with UK companies and to adopt an intransigent attitude” - in other words, he couldn’t be arsed finding out himself - he cannot be so stupid as not to know that many of his customers drink by brand, which means if they can’t get Becks or Stella, they’ll go somewhere they can.
Real and craft ale drinkers are more likely to take a punt on something different, but even then, Martin’s problem with rising costs has stuff all to do with rotten Eurocrats, and everything to do with the tanking currency, along with all the imported ingredients, even for beer that is brewed in the UK. He has Shipyard Pale from Portland, Maine brewed in Britain under licence. But where does he imagine the hops come from?
More and more cask and craft beers use American and even southern hemisphere hops. Their cost is rising twofold: demand for beers brewed using them, and the fall in Sterling. More malt comes from outside Britain. The same problem will affect any wine he substitutes for French produce. German-style beer means eastern European hops, and the same problem. Martin blaming the EU is just aimless whataboutery.
Tim Martin is full of wind and piss. So no change there, then.