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Wetherspoon knocks 20p off pint in no-deal Brexit stunt

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin draft a beer together at Wetherspoons Metropolitan Bar in London, Britain, July 10, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/pool

JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) is cutting the price of a pint in its pubs by an average of 20p to show how leaving the European Union Customs Union could reduce costs.

More than 600 Wetherspoon pubs will sell a pint of Ruddles for £1.69 from Friday, with a further 160 offering a pint for £1.59 or less. Around 36 pubs will sell a pint for £1.39.

Tim Martin, the pub group’s Brexit-supporting chairman, said: “At the current time, customers and businesses pay tariffs on thousands of products which are imported from outside the EU.

“These tariffs are collected by the UK Government and sent to Brussels. Provided we leave the customs union on 31 October, the Government can end these protectionist tariffs, which will reduce prices in supermarkets and pubs.”

Ruddles, the pint that Wetherspoons is reducing the cost of, is made by English brewery Greene King and not subject to import costs.

Martin said: "A lot of politicians have misled the public by suggesting leaving the customs union would be a 'cliff edge' or 'disaster'. This is the reverse of the truth. Ending tariffs will reduce prices."

Martin is one of the most prominent Brexit supporting business people in the UK and has consistently used Wetherspoon’s investor updates to argue in favour of Brexit.

In July, Martin said “the negative undertone of no-deal is an illusion” and said “a withdrawal deal with the European Union “unnecessary and counterproductive.”

Wetherspoon stopped stocking European made drinks including French champagne, German beer, and Jagermeister last year ahead of Brexit.

“All EU products have UK or non-EU replacements, often at equal or better quality and price,” Martin said at the time.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that he would rather “be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit timeline and reaffirmed his commitment to get the UK out of the EU by 31 October.