The chair of JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) has used the pub chain’s latest trading statement as a platform to attack fears of a no-deal Brexit.
Tim Martin, a well-known Brexit advocate, dubbed a withdrawal deal with the European Union “unnecessary and counterproductive,” and called widespread predictions that a no-deal outcome could be catastrophic for the UK economy “an illusion.”
He used a long note at the beginning of a Wetherspoon’s trading statement on Wednesday to resume his campaign for a hard Brexit, in a return to form for the outspoken pub tycoon.
He said leaving without a deal should be better described as a “multi-deal Brexit,” even though Britain would have no agreement with Brussels and be unlikely to have many deals with other countries immediately.
The absence of a lengthy statement on Brexit was the most striking feature of one of the company’s most recent trading updates in May.
In a single line at the bottom of his latest comments, he added: “As regards Wetherspoon, the company's expectation for our annual results is unchanged for the current financial year."
The huge pub company said its sales were on the up, with like-for-like sales 6.9% higher and total sales 6.6% higher for the 10 weeks to 7 July.
It said like-for-like sales for the year to date were up 6.7%, and total sales up 7.4%.
Martin admitted the nature of the UK’s relationship with the EU was “the main issue” for shareholders.
But he said the dichotomy between a deal and a no-deal Brexit was “misleading,” saying leaving without a deal actually meant signing “a multitude of deals” between individuals, firms, governments and others.
Britain was already “proceeding at pace” towards leaving without a deal with the EU, he added.
“The negative undertone of no-deal is an illusion,” he wrote in the statement.
Martin said Wetherspoon had begun preparing, such as replacing French champagne and German beer with British, Australian and American alternatives.
He quoted the head of the port of Calais saying there will “not be any delay” despite the likely need for rule changes and checks overnight.
He described what is widely dubbed a Brexit “deal” as a “mono-deal” between Britain and Brussels.
Fears of heavy job losses in the City of London after the referendum had proved “wide off the mark,” he claimed, despite the loss of thousands of jobs already this year.