Merlin Pendragon hears Tim Martin, wealthy businessman, qualified barrister, and founder and chairman of Wetherspoons, talking 
about ignoring Europe

On Thursday 10th January Tim turned up at the John Logie Baird in battered jeans and a black polo, which might’ve fooled viewers of France’s Channel TF1 (whose camera crew happened to be in the area) but to the less-than-casual observer the outfit did little to disguise his wealth and distinction. He’s a chatty politico with an unusual agenda and more than an ounce of confidence. And why not? They seem to be a dying breed. The defining feature of Tim’s speech, in fact, was that he might’ve cared about what he was saying, and not just because his metaphorical head would roll if he didn’t. 

Tim has been touring his Brexit brand along with a dedicated heckler, who we’ll call European Dave. I mention this because since the JLB, Tim has been scared off his tour by bands of once-charming European Daves. I guess no-one’s bottle can last forever. 

Opening proceedings, Tim says we’ll have more control over our trading arrangements if there’s No Deal, which means, for example, we’ll be able to charge no tariffs or get all the profits from any tariffs we do charge. Problem here though is that for new trade deals to appeal, we’d need some good deal makers – and we don’t have any.

Apart from this, my notes say he claimed a Lords Committee has us getting £39 billion back by leaving, with no obligations to pay any supposed “debts” we might owe. Might be worth looking into, but we’ve heard lines like this before. And if there are debts to be paid, even a fair few Brexiteers around the room thought we ought to pay them. We’re not the perifidious Albion of the French history books, after all. 

He mentioned fishing waters to the great joy of everyone in hearing range, and possibly some people passing by outside, but then that was always going to be a winner here. Maybe it’s even something the EU itself feels a bit guilty about, I don’t know. 

And he spoke variously and uncertainly about democracy being restored or improved by our departure. Other points popped up in the after-talk questions, like military protections and Ireland. To EU military expansion he said, probably quite rightly, that NATO is better, or enough. To Ireland he started breaking into sudden ‘accidental’ accents and talked about selling booze across the border. 

It all ended with private interviews, first with TF1, then with Madeleina Kay, self-styled EU Supergirl at large, and finally with a local who wanted to know why he didn’t go to Bexhill Spoons. Somewhere along the line he was also asked if he was going to sort out the John Logie Baird, to which he replied “Well, there’s nothing falling off the walls.”

No Deal indeed. 

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.