Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin met with cheers and jeers on his Brexit pub crusade

Minutes into Tim Martin’s Brexit speech a heckler shouts: “Sorry, Tim, you’re talking b*****ks.”

It is Thursday lunchtime in the Grey Friar JD Wetherspoon pub in Preston.

Around 80 customers are listening to the pub chain boss argue over whether the UK must pay £39billion to Brussels.

The Lancashire audience is mainly middle-aged men. Some stare awkwardly into their pints, as most people do when someone gets loud in a boozer.

In the middle of the pub is a huge poster attacking Theresa May ’s Brexit .

Mr Martin at The Grey Friar pub in Preston

 

Dotted around on tables are copies of the Wetherspoon magazine, with a feature claiming the “metropolitan elite” is trying to con the British public about the dangers of a no-deal. Martin is touring his pubs to reinforce the message.

After ambling in and picking up a mic, the 63-year-old bear of a man, worth £448million, speaks slowly, deliberately.

“I get complaints people can’t hear me, which may be because they don’t want to. I understand,” he says, and gets a laugh.

Mr Martin believes no-deal Brexit would not be a disaster

 

He then launches into a rambling 10-minute speech on why no-deal will not, as the experts claim, be a disaster.

He adds: “A lot of people say we must have a deal at any price.

"That’s most MPs, the Financial Times, CBI and the great and good in general. I don’t think it’s true.

Mr Martin speaks to the Daily Mirror’s Jason Beattie

 

“Under no-deal we can eliminate tariffs on oranges, Cambodian rice, bananas, New Zealand sauvignon blanc and Aussie merlot,” he says, reeling off a list doctors would not advise as your five a day.

Up to this point he has mainly had the audience with him.

Then he ventures into the graveyard of all Brexit debates: facts. “How much money has Lancashire received in EU funding?” he is asked.

Customer Rob Wheatley said he wasn’t impressed by Mr Martin’s arguments

 

Martin calls that a “trivial pursuit” question and he doesn’t know. Then he’s asked if no-deal will be good for jobs.

“What about Airbus? Sony?” says the questioner, citing two companies who have put their UK locations in doubt over a no-deal.

A good-natured chant of “Project Fear, Project Fear” strikes up from Leavers, followed by counter chants of “Project Reality, Project Reality”.

Phil Jones (left) and David Pemberton thought the Wetherspoons boss made good points

 

Martin replies emphatically to loud cheers: “I think a no-deal Brexit will be brilliant for the UK.”

Winding up, Martin says: “Not everyone will agree with what I say but it’s good to have the debate.”

Most in the pub agree. Enjoying a tea, David Wareing, 64, and Andrew Lockwood, 63, both voted Remain.

David says Martin was “quite impressive. I think we felt there should have been more of this before the referendum”.

Andrew Lockwood (left) and David Wareing also listened to Mr Martin’s speech

Phil Jones, 65, who is drinking with his friend David Pemberton, 66, says: “He was bang on. We voted out and the establishment is trying to change the will of the people.”

He adds: “He started his own business and I respect what he has done, you have to listen to people like that.”

But Rob Wheatley, 58, a doctor, is not impressed.

The avid Brexiteer addresses his customers

 

He says: “His speech was fundamentally dishonest. There were no arguments on the economic benefits.”

Preston voted Leave by 53% to 47%, like the UK as a whole, and it seems they are sticking to their guns.

Green MP and Remainer Caroline Lucas is addressing Leavers around the UK to try to understand why 17.4 million people voted Brexit and persuade them pro-EU politicians are not part of an out-of-touch elite.

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