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Wetherspoon boss urges MPs to vote down 'economically ruinous' tier system

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·2-min read
Founder and Chairman of Wetherspoon Tim Martin speaks during the Brexit Party's 'We Are Ready' event at Colchester United Football Club in Essex. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin is a critic of coronavirus restrictions. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images.

The boss of JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) has urged MPs to vote down England’s new regional coronavirus restrictions in a Commons vote on Tuesday.

Tim Martin, founder and chair of the leading UK pub chain, claimed the UK government had “effectively closed all pubs in England by stealth,” as curbs will continue despite lockdown easing on Wednesday.

The pub group said Martin had written to prime minister Boris Johnson, copying in every MP, calling restrictions on trade “economically ruinous.”

The vast majority of England’s pubs will fall in Tier 2, which leaves them only able to serve alcohol alongside food, and Tier 3, which means a shutdown other than takeaway provision.

WATCH: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work

Martin, one of Britain’s most outspoken senior business chiefs, has repeatedly attacked the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus. He sent Johnson a copy of Wetherspoon News, including a series of critical articles.

A statement released by Martin on Monday reads: “It is a fallacy that pubs will reopen on Wednesday 2 December.

READ MORE: Wetherspoon boss accuses UK government of 'stealth' lockdown

“A pub licence, unlike a restaurant licence, allows you to sell beer, wine and spirits ‘for consumption on the premises’, without a table meal- and this is now prohibited.

“I decided to write to all MPs on Friday, because the government is making reckless decisions, using emergency powers, and MPs only have an occasional opportunity to intervene - there will be a vote in parliament on Tuesday.”

READ MORE: Wetherspoon's first-quarter sales slump on fresh COVID-19 curbs

He added: “Pubs have invested tens of millions of pound to make them safe, in accordance with regulations devised by the government, local authorities and health officials.”

On 11 November, Wetherspoon posted lower sales for the first quarter of its new financial year.

WATCH: Wetherspoons boss blames 'baffling' rules as sales slump

Dozens of Conservative MPs are also reported to be critical of the latest restrictions, with a backbench rebellion expected on Tuesday.

But the prime minister and cabinet members have warned new curbs are essential to reduce infections, and faced criticism from scientists for loosening curbs over Christmas.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News on Sunday there was a risk of a third spike if infections were not brought down, and failed to rule out another full lockdown in England.