Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin savages Macron and Barnier over ‘pathetic’ trade plot ‘trick’

Tim Martin, the owner of nationwide pub chain Wetherspoon, insisted the British public are now fed up with warnings from French President Emmanuel Macron and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier about delays to a Brexit deal beyond 2020. Boris Johnson wants a full post-Brexit free trade agreement signed with Brussels before the end of the transition period in 2020, which he is refusing to extend if negotiations collapse. Several leading European Union figureheads, including Mr Barnier and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have repeatedly warned a comprehensive agreement will be impossible to achieve in the short timeframe.

Brexiteer Mr Martin warned UK and EU negotiators people will not be fooled by a deal that fails to achieve what he said would be a real restoration of democracy.

He warned if the UK is forced to closely align with EU laws, or fails to protect fishing rights, the public will shun goods from the bloc and would drive imports from the two biggest EU economies of Germany and France “down to zero”.

But the pub chain boss also launched a scathing attack against the EU, particularly Mr Barnier andFrench President Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Martin said: “If the public is tricked or cajoled it will have the power to drive imports from France and Germany down to zero, irrespective of any agreement.

“In my opinion, the public is fed up with repeated warnings from French President Emmanuel Macron and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, in areas such as fishing rights and prospective delays to a deal beyond the end of this year.

“It’s truly pathetic of the EU to imply that a deal can’t be done by December 2020.

“Brussels is a laughing stock in most of the world for its bureaucracy and sclerosis.

“If Macron and Barnier don’t want a deal, or make threats, consumers will simply reject EU goods and will buy from the rest of the world, as Wetherspoon has shown by swapping French brandy and champagne, and German spirits and beers, for UK and new world alternatives.”

Mr Martin insisted anything bought from Europe could still also be purchased from elsewhere in the world.

He added: “Scare stories about planes not flying, blocked ports or loss of jobs in the City of London have proved to be cobblers, and consumers won’t fall for Macron and Barnier’s baloney.”

Earlier this week, Mr Martin urged the Prime Minister to abandon post-Brexit trade talks with the EU, suggesting the UK should leave on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.

EU bosses have continued to insist they want Britain to stay closely aligned with Brussels’ rules and have warned Mr Johnson they will not back the kind of agreement he is seeking.

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This has led the Weatherspoons boss to urge the Prime Minister to walk away from talks and urged him not to “tie our hands” and sign a bodged trade deal with the EU.

Mr Martin told Express.co.uk: “I actually think we would be better off with no deal and leaving on WTO terms.

“I think we would be better off in the long run than signing one under pressure.

“We must not sign anything that ties our hands.”

Fishing rights are arguably proving to be the biggest sticking point in negotiations, with Brussels demanding the UK continues to allow its fleets access to British waters in any post-Brexit trade deal.

Mr Barnier said on Tuesday fishing rights must be included in the deal or there “won’t be any agreement at all”.

He said: “The trade agreement will be associated with a fisheries agreement and an agreement about a level playing field or there won’t be any agreement at all.”

But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman hit back: “The UK did not vote twice to take back control of its fishing waters only to give that control up again.

“As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter what the EU puts in its mandate as we become an independent coastal state on December 31 2020.

“This does not have to be negotiated, nor will it be.

“Any access by non-UK vessels to fish in UK waters will be for us to determine.”

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