Tim Martin says European leaders are determined to put Britain's consumption of German beer, French champagne and Swedish cider under threat

Oliver Gill
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A man on a mission: Tim Martin isn't happy with the approach of Europe's leaders (Source: Getty)

The founder of pub giant Wetherspoon this morning slammed the "unelected" EU chief as well as the supporting leaders of Germany and France.

Staunch Brexiter Tim Martin, who is chairman of the pub chain, hit out at EU leaders saying that they were determined to hurt the UK.

Martin was active campaigning for Britain to leave the EU and signed several business-led letters calling for Brexit. He said on the run-up to 23 June that the EU was "doomed" because it didn't have the level of democracy needed to make a proper economic region. And he said that the lack of a democratic process in the EU leadership was harming Britain's ability to smoothly leave the EU.

Angela Merkel of Germany and Francois Hollande of France have supported the stance of the unelected EU ‘President’ Juncker in stating that the 'UK must pay a price' for leaving the EU and that there 'must be a threat' to the UK.

According to press reports, Juncker told European business leaders, in October, not to negotiate with UK companies and to adopt an 'intransigent' attitude. This suggested approach puts an unfair burden on the excellent European suppliers with which UK companies, like Wetherspoon, have traded for many decades.

Ultimately, said Martin, this would hurt EU countries as well as the UK consumer.

It will inevitably result in a loss of business for European companies which have done nothing to deserve this outcome. Indeed, the ultimate sanction will be in the hands of UK consumers, should they take offence at the hectoring and bullying approach of Juncker and co. French wine, Champagne and spirits, German beer and Swedish cider, for example, are all at extreme risk.

Read more: Wetherspoons drowns its sorrows - but toasts Brexit

The gloomy rant came as Wetherspoon told the market how it had done in its first quarter. Although like-for-like sales increased by 3.5 per cent and total sales increased by 2.3 per cent over the period, over the past five weeks the level of like-for-like sales had reduced by 2.3 per cent.

The company also responded to concerns from a major investor that it was overstretching and taking out too much debt.

How many years of earnings would it take Wetherspoon to pay off its net debt? (Source: Wetherspoon)

"The company understands that debt always involves risk: the greater the debt, the greater the risk... Weighing the level of debt and risk is a difficult job," the company explained in a statement.

Read more: Martin sticks by Heineken pub snub in the City

Wetherspoon went on to say that it needed to take out more debt because it had spent £400m buying back its own shares since the turn of the century as well as £140m on refurbing properties. Low interest rates and "reasonable" property prices justified taking out more debt, as well as "an experienced board which is sceptical of dangerous fashions in the financial world".

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