Wetherspoon's shares drop as boss pulls Brexit 'savings' stunt

PUBLISHED: 11:32 06 September 2019 | UPDATED: 20:30 06 September 2019

Boris Johnson during a visit to Wetherspoons Metropolitan Bar in London with Tim Martin, chair of JD Wetherspoon. Picture: Henry Nicholls/PA Wire/PA Images

Boris Johnson during a visit to Wetherspoons Metropolitan Bar in London with Tim Martin, chair of JD Wetherspoon. Picture: Henry Nicholls/PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Wetherspoons has cut the average price of its beer by 20p a pint in a bid to demonstrate how leaving the customs union can reduce costs... but can you spot the flaw in the argument?

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The chain's Brexit-supporting chair Tim Martin said leaving the customs union on October 31 would allow the government to end "protectionist tariffs", which he claimed would reduce prices in pubs and supermarkets.

However commentators have immediately started pointing out that the price cut proves the exact opposite of Martin's argument, as it was made while we are still in the EU.

Martin had previously announced that he would slash the price of beer in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

But with this move he appears to have shot himself in the foot by reducing the price of a pint of Ruddles, a British beer, to as low as £1.39 in a select number of his pubs before we have even left the customs union.

He argued: "At the current time customers and businesses pay tariffs on thousands of products which are imported from outside the EU."

He added that if the UK leaves the customs union on October 31, the government can end "protectionist" tariffs.

READ: Wetherspoons boss dangles promises of cheap beer after a no-deal Brexit

He did not mention that the tariff on beer from outside the EU is currently zero.

"In order to illustrate this point, Wetherspoon has decided to reduce the price of Ruddles bitter, brewed by Greene King."

Despite the obvious counter-arguments, the Daily Express told its readers: "Wetherspoons cuts average price of pint by 20p today - you can thank Brexit."

In an interview with Sky News, Martin claimed there was not a cost to shareholders for the stunt, but shares had dropped 1.80% by the end of the day.

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