UK Markets closed

Wetherspoons is slashing alcohol and food prices today in tax protest

Mark Dorman
Wetherspoon’s 900 pubs up and down the country are taking part in the tax protest (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

JD Wetherspoon is cutting the price of all drinks and food by 7.5% today at its 900 pubs across the country – in a protest over tax.

The nationwide chain is backing Tax Equality Day, aimed at highlighting the benefit of a VAT reduction in the hospitality industry.

Currently, pub, restaurant and bar customers pay an extra 20% on top of the cost of food and drink, while there is zero VAT on food in supermarkets.

MORE: Wetherspoon boss: EU negotiators need to ‘take a wise-up pill’ on Brexit or risk more unemployment

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin said that even a 5% cut in VAT would create 78,000 jobs.

He said the pub chain was proud to back the campaign, adding: “Customers in our pubs will find the price of their drinks and food to be lower than normal.

“We are keen to highlight the amount which customers would save, if VAT in pubs were lowered permanently.

MORE: Wetherspoons ‘bans customers from charging their mobile phone behind the bar’

“A reduction in the level of VAT, on a long-term basis, will generate growth and create jobs in the important leisure and hospitality sector.”

Tim Martin, chairman of pubs group JD Wetherspoon, is a fierce supporter of Brexit (REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)

Martin said cutting VAT would be a win-win for the government since pubs and restaurants pay more taxes and create more jobs than supermarkets do.

He said that if a customer would ordinarily pay £10 for a meal and a pint, on Wednesday that same deal would cost £9.25.

Wetherspoons, which is already noted for its cheap beers and food compared with its rivals, has about 900 pubs up and down the country.

MORE: Top 100 firms demand an end to Brexit bickering

It’s estimated about 15,000 other establishments are taking part in Tax Equality Day.

Martin is a vocal backer of Brexit and last week threatened to pull European brands from the chain unless the likes of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker started talking seriously about a trade deal with the UK.

He said: “In the current negotiations, democratically-elected politicians from the UK are dealing with unelected oligarchs from the EU.

MORE: Toys ‘R’ Us reportedly preparing for bankruptcy before Christmas

“As a result of their current posturing and threats, EU negotiators are inevitably encouraging importers like Wetherspoon to look elsewhere for supplies.

“Wetherspoon is extremely confident that it can switch from EU suppliers, if required, although we would be very reluctant to initiate such actions.”