‘Food price rises are a myth’ says Wetherspoon’s boss as he announces price hike

He's in good company - Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon Plc, left, with Boris Johnson. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images

He's in good company - Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon Plc, left, with Boris Johnson. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ôø?Ôø? 2016 Bloomberg Finance LP

Brexit barman Tim Martin has warned the cost of food and drinks in his Wetherspoon pubs is set to spiral - despite his claims prices would not rise on the back of leaving the EU.

The prominent Leave campaigner has warned that food and drink “may have to go up a bit” after a slowing of sales over summer - but he refused to blame Brexit.

Instead Martin said a combination of staff costs, interest and taxes were responsible.

Like-for-like sales growth of 5% over the summer was slower than the 5.2% registered in the nine months to the start of July, although the pub chain still reported a 4.3% rise in profits overall.

Martin told the BBC: “I think what we’ll do is keep our prices as low as we reasonably can, they might have to go up a little bit, and just do the right thing and hope that is compensated by rising sales which will pay for the cost increases.”

He had previously claimed that he believed “food and drink prices will come down after Brexit” but argued the key would be leaving without a deal.

In his latest statement he said: “Some individuals, businesses and business organisations have mistakenly, or misleadingly, repeated the myth that food prices will rise without a deal with the EU.

“In fact, the only way prices can rise post-Brexit is if parliament votes to impose tariffs. The EU will have no say in the matter, provided that the government does not sign away the UK’s rights in a deal in the meantime.”

Last year Martin insisted prospects for his business and the UK economy have improved since the decision to leave the EU.

However his employees don’t appear to agree - next month staff are set to strike alongside employees from McDonald’s and TGI Friday over what they call “poverty wages”.

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