The CEO of brewery and pub chain Brewdog has poured a pint of the sourest beer possible all over Brexit.
James Watt told Bloomberg that Britain’s departure from the European Union has brought about a “significant negative impact” on his own company’s operations and “massively handicapped UK companies that do business in Europe, with zero benefit at all.”
Watt went on the attack after identifying Brexit as one reason behind Brewdog’s latest financial figures, which show an operating loss of £24million. He said his company’s operations in EU countries had been hampered by red tape incurred by both the decision to leave and the subsequent implementation of that decision.
He said: “We sell so much beer in mainland Europe. We own and operate our own buyers in France, Germany, Italy and Holland. Just getting our beer to those buyers is significantly more expensive and significantly more difficult.
“For me, it’s just massively handicapped UK companies that do business in Europe, with zero benefit at all. I think it’s been tragic for UK business and a lot of the economic issues the UK is facing – more inflation than other places, being harder to do business, is a result of the catastrophic decision to leave the EU. It’s really crippled businesses in the UK.”
Watt also claimed the government’s “sheer incompetence” had helped to create conditions in which the cost of producing a case of beer was almost 40% more expensive than it was 18 months ago.
He said: “That’s at a time where consumers have less disposable income, so we’ve had to absorb the vast majority of that cost increase, which has made things really challenging.”
Watt’s view is diametrically opposed to that of Wetherspoons CEO Tim Martin, who told LBC last week that he had no regrets about backing Brexit with beermats and magazines in his pubs prior to the 2016 referendum.
Martin told Andrew Marr he was still “amazed by the depth of emotion but I don’t think many people have changed their minds.
“Have I regrets? No, I think, for humanity to survive, I think we need democracy… and my bons to pick with the EU is you don’t elect the president by universal suffrage and MEPs can’t initiate legislation and the ECJ, the court, isn’t accountable to Parliament.
“I think the most powerful elixir for economics and for personal freedoms is democracy. And when you start reducing it, the level of economic performance eventually declines.”
Alas, as Watt might tell him, Brexit seems to have started a decline in economic performance that is anything but gradual…