Tim Martin says unilateral free trade would reduce Wetherspoon's prices by 1.5p a pint

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Martin expects to be able to reduce prices under a free trade approach (Source: Getty)

Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin has called for the government to pursue unilateral free trade if the UK leaves the EU with no agreement over terms.

In an article sent to journalists this morning, Martin wrote that Wetherspoon's had calculated that the price per meal or pint sold at its pubs would be 1.5p lower if the UK chose this approach.

Read more: The UK and EU just explained to the WTO how trade will work after Brexit

His comments came in response to those of Sainsbury's chairman David Tyler, who told the Sunday Times at the weekend that the UK could face an average tariff of 22 per cent on food imports from Europe under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

But Martin said that this would not happen if the UK adopts unilateral free trade.

"If the UK government follows this route, which Wetherspoon believes it should, food costs for Sainsbury’s, Wetherspoon and the public will go down, not up, as Tyler misleadingly suggests.

"This is because the EU is not really a free trade organisation at all. It’s a club whose members don’t charge tariffs to each other, but they do charge countries outside the EU, especially for food."

Read more: Wetherspoon's founder Tim Martin tells Remainers: Lay off Boris

He added that he believed the UK would save £20bn by not paying the bill imposed by the EU for its departure.

But Martin said the other option after a no-deal was to charge tariffs on EU imports at current EU rates.

Such a move would, according to Martin, increase Wetherspoon's prices by about 2p across the board.

"As a champion of free trade, UK businesses and consumers would benefit substantially," he concluded. "But this approach requires considerable governmental confidence, which would be significantly boosted by a realistic assessment of the impact of WTO rules — rather than the claptrap from Tyler and other diehard remainers. The government has talked the talk about free trade, so let’s encourage them to walk the walk."

Read more: Don’t fall for the myths – free trade enriches the world

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