Pub operator JD Wetherspoon has rolled out 500,000 beer mats – one side highlighting its support for the British fishing industry and the other accusing business leaders of misleading the public on Brexit.
It states that “big business has tried to fool the public by saying that food prices will rise, without a deal with the EU” followed by “it’s not true – the EU imposes high tariffs on non-EU food imports, which keeps prices high.”
The mat ends with a point calling for MPs to “eliminate tariffs and reduce food prices by leaving the EU in March 2019 – and states that the UK can save an additional £200 million per week in EU contributions.”
Three industry leaders, Whitbread chairman Richard Baker, Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler and CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn are highlighted on the mat alongside an accompanying profile shot.
The other side shows support for Britain’s fishing industry, by backing Fishing for Leave. It states “in March 2019, parliament can reclaim rights to the UK’s historic fishing grounds, ending EU policies which have devastated many coastal communities.”
It also calls on MPs to “support British fisherman by voting to leave the EU in March 2019 and says that a transitional deal delays leaving and allows EU boats to continue catching 60% of the UK’s fish.”
Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “Most boardrooms and economists got it wrong over the exchange rate mechanism, the euro and the effect of a leave vote. The latest big business scare story is that the U.K. needs a ‘deal’ with the EU to avoid a ‘cliff edge’. Senior business people have repeatedly said that food prices will rise dramatically without one.
“This is the reverse of the truth – parliament can eliminate the tariffs the EU currently charges on food. This will reduce prices by about 3.5 pence per meal provided the UK avoids a deal and reverts to World Trade Organisation rules.
“These business leaders should be ashamed of their naked attempt to mislead the public.”
Fishing for Leave spokesperson Alan Hastings added: “Fishing is one of our nation’s finest natural resources. It was sold out to EU control with such devastating consequences for towns synonymous with fishing.
“Brexit gives us a chance to right that wrong and automatically regain control of all UK waters and resources under international law on 29th March 2019 to be like Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
“This would see the UK regain the 60% of its fish that the EU catches in our waters and see fishing communities rejuvenated by a potential £6.3 billion windfall.”
The mats will be in use in its 893 pubs across the UK.
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