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Wetherspoons pub boss backs Brexit

The European Union is not democratic and is instead run in the interests of a “middle-aged male elite”, the chairman of one of the UK’s biggest pub companies has said.

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin (Photo: Wetherspoon)

Tim Martin, the outspoken head of British pub chain JD Wetherspoon, has put out his stall on the issue of Britain’s membership of the European Union, subject of a referendum in June.

He said the euro is doomed to failure, that the EU is a “quasi-religious” project rather than an economic one, and that free trade and immigration policies should be handled by sovereign British government.

His view is in direct opposition to that of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the UK’s biggest trade body representing the wine and spirit industry.

The WSTA is thought to have agreed weeks ago to back Britain remaining in the EU, according to board member and Enotria&Coe CEO Troy Christensen, however it has not officially confirmed its stance.

“I was baffled by the fact that most of [the EU’s) political proponents were a middle-aged and older male elite who’d almost all been to one of Britain’s great universities, yet wished to surrender power to a non-democratic institution in Europe”, Martin said.

“What was their motivation? No one can be sure, but it was probably the instinct or emotion that the European elite… with a strikingly similar education and background to their own, could better handle important matters of state than the great, unwashed British public, with its interfering courts, aggressive and intruding press and cantankerous population.”

However Mr Martin, whose business operates around 950 pubs in the UK, said he supports the cornerstone EU policy of free movement of people due to the advantage it gives to businesses looking for flexible labour.

“Clearly, if the UK decides to leave the EU, it would be in the economic and other interests of this country and our European neighbours to have friendly relations, strong business links, including free trade, and, I believe, free movement of labour,” he said.

His comments come after JD Wetherspoon posted a 10.8% fall in operating profits to £49.4 million in the 26 weeks to January 24.

Rising wages for staff and growing ­competition were blamed for the poor results.

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