by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 2
June 2021
Reaction
11:47

Tim Martin’s Remainer enemies are missing the point

As always, they confuse British control of borders with closed borders
by Peter Franklin
Two new hires at the Westminster local. Credit: Getty

Diehard Remainers are the worst losers is modern British history. Their refusal to accept the result of the referendum has had a warping effect on our politics. It has destroyed any chance of securing a softer Brexit; it has done lasting, perhaps fatal, damage to the Labour Party; and it manifests itself as a deranged hatred of certain individuals.

Needless to say, Boris Johnson is hate figure number one. But there’s a strong case that number two on the list is not a politician, but the founder and chairman of Wetherspoons, Tim Martin. 


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A bluntly outspoken advocate of Brexit, Martin very visibly deviated from ‘project fear’ efforts of the pro-Remain business establishment. Even worse than that, both he and Wetherspoons are symbols of cultural non-conformity. The London elites do not in fact exercise a hegemonic influence over the lives and loyalties of the nation. Millions of people have ideas and passions other than those promoted by the cultural establishment, and furthermore they have the vote — as they demonstrated on the 23 June 2016.

The leaders of the rebellion have never been forgiven. When any opportunity arises to attack them, it is gleefully — and thoughtlessly — taken. And so, when Tim Martin was quoted among the leaders of the hospitality sector calling for more immigration (in order to deal with staff shortages), the haters couldn’t believe their luck. 

Over the last 24 hours, the internet has echoed to the sound of cheap shots — variations on the theme that Martin is either a hypocrite or a poetically justified victim of his own politics.

Which goes to show that over the last five years, the Remain diehards have learned absolutely nothing. As always, they deliberately confuse the principle of British control over British borders with a policy of closed borders; and controlled immigration with no immigration. 

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that the Leave argument all along was that this most sensitive and complicated of issues ought to decided on a national basis. And that far from encouraging extremism, control by democratically accountable national governments is by far the most effective way of fighting it. 

It’s absolutely right that business leaders like Tim Martin should put the case for a more liberal immigration policy — especially as it relates to the specific and extraordinary circumstances faced by the hospitality sector today.

It’s also right that we should ask why industries like his own are so dependent on overseas labour — and whether higher wages might not be a better way of attracting the necessary personnel. 

These are vitally important arguments that we should not only be having — but also deciding upon — as a nation. And, thanks to Brexit, we can.

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Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

Every time the Remainers “death gurgle” resurfaces, you know their self-indulgence will result in an increase in the Conservatives poll lead.
Quite hilarious really ….

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Barton
George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Owen Jones is armed and ready at the twitter barricades, gun aimed squarely at his own foot. “Give them Hell (unless you don’t believe in hell, or have a faith with a different conception of hell, or are triggered by the notion of religion), Lads ( unless you find gendered language to be literal violence, identify as a non-lad, trans-lad, or a ladeda) . Unleash the tweets!”

Last edited 1 year ago by George Glashan
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  George Glashan

I believe Owen has applied for one of the available jobs at Wetherspoons as research for his book ‘Down And Out In Islington and Barnsbury’.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

He’d soon clear the place – useful at the end of the evening …

Neil Cheshire
Neil Cheshire
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

He would be lucky to qualify as a ‘plongeur’.

William Harvey
William Harvey
1 year ago
Reply to  George Glashan

I’ve never used Twitter though, I have read excepts from it and have a decent understanding of how it was created and how the platform was written. Whether by design, or sheer bad luck, it only serves to forment discord and disharmony. Interestingly thats the very reason it is banned in China. L Twitter is a cancerous rot in the fabric of Western culture. It needs to be legislated out of existence. Of course I would never be allowed to air that opinion on Twitter itself

Last edited 1 year ago by William Harvey
Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  William Harvey

I had a Twitter account for a few months and had to delete it. It definitely needs to go.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

I lasted a solid 3 days on there. Before I signed up to it I was blissfully unaware of the sheer number of utter prats I am acquainted with. That was a very harsh lesson learned.

John Snowball
John Snowball
1 year ago
Reply to  William Harvey

When I first heard about Twitter it seemed to me to be nothing but a platform for people who are far too fond of their own opinions. Nothing has happened since to change my mind.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

I am a huge fan of Tim Martin but I do think he is being hypocritical here. There would be no shortage of staff if we ended the insanity of the furlough now and if we didn’t persist with sending millions of young people to university for no reason other than massively enriching the people who run universities. And I have no doubt that there are other steps that could be taken.

Vivek Rajkhowa
Vivek Rajkhowa
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Indeed, why bring people in from abroad, when there are apparently a shit tonne of young people who are unemployed and looking for work?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Vivek Rajkhowa

Were they looking for work?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

If they want to eat, yes.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Vivek Rajkhowa

Along with unemployed NOT looking for work….

Susie Wenman
Susie Wenman
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Both your points are true, but neither are the fault of Tim Martin, so it’s unfair to call him hypocritical.

William Harvey
William Harvey
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Perfect… just perfect

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Students can do bar work.

Neil Wilson
Neil Wilson
1 year ago

“the specific and extraordinary circumstances faced by the hospitality sector today.”
There are 3.5 million people without work that want it across the UK and 1 million short of work.
If you “can’t get the staff” with that amount of people to draw from then you don’t have a skills shortage problem, you have a wage shortage problem.
Create decent jobs where people live paying a living wage, or close to make way for those businesses that can.
It’s way past time that business realised it has to compete for labour by offering better terms and conditions.

Last edited 1 year ago by Neil Wilson
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Wilson

They could try pruning their dole for a few weeks

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Wilson

Why not just increase the number of temporary working visas and enforce it – wasn’t one of the problems that anyone in the EU had the right to live and work in the UK without restrictions – so if they came over to pick fruit for a summer they never left? Same with non-EU migrants – it seems to me that the issue is you can come to the UK to study/visit/work – and never leave. And then you invite all your family to come too because of your ‘human rights’. People who weren’t born here and aren’t even citizens!! Being a citizen used to mean something, now people are just collecting passports and no-one cares! It’s ridiculous. Students used to work bars and pick fruit to earn money in their holidays – then they went home.

Jason Lynch
Jason Lynch
1 year ago

Isn’t it curious how in the runup to the EU referendum, suggestions that unfettered immigration from the EU had depressed wages and conditions in some sectors, were dismissed as bigoted nonsense? Apparently adding millions of workers couldn’t possibly allow employers to pay less, offer worse conditions, or otherwise worsen the lot of the existing workforce, and only deranged, xenophobic gammons would believe in the “law” of supply and demand.
Yet now, when Martin points out that with fewer foreign workers, he’s struggling to recruit and retain, what was formerly bigoted nonsense is now pounced upon as Gospel truth and proof of why we shouldn’t have left; because reducing the supply of immigrant labour (often motivated, energetic, and smart enough to arbitrage the difference in living costs between the UK and their home) has made it harder for some British employers to hire workers.
Why, it’s almost as if the deranged, xenophobic gammons were right all along…
And the author’s point remains correct: we (collectively, overall) can decide to tell Tim Martin to up his wages or otherwise make his jobs more attractive, to compete for a smaller pool of applicants (accepting that may mean a pint in ‘Spoons goes up). Or, we may decide to continue to allow motivated Eastern European folk to come and do bar work (raising questions of why we’re importing workers, while we’re paying our own citizens to sit idle while foreigners do the jobs they won’t).
However it plays, though, it’s now our choice (with the associated issue of no longer being able to slope shoulders and say “EU regulations, innit? Can’t do anything about that…”)

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason Lynch

It was always your choice. Since 1997, c.66% of all migrants were non EU Citizens. UK GOV also decided to open its borders in 2004.
Fools believed EU is to blame

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

It was Globalist idiots like tony blair only 14,000 would arrive from Eastern Europe when it was nearer 600,000.Their voters are equally deluded

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

I don’t know what part of c.66% of the immigrants since 1997 are not EU citizens?
And yes, hard working Poles. What a terrible problem to have!

Frederick B
Frederick B
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

“..hard working Poles. What a terrible problem to have” Yes, indeed. As we shall soon realise when we see who Boris’ new open borders policy (euphemistically called a “points based policy”) brings us in place of those Poles.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason Lynch

Or we could invite a whole load of Aussies and Kiwis to come and pull pints. Seemed to work in the past.

William Harvey
William Harvey
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Thats not possible. We are forbidden to leave our hermit kingdoms due to pathological fear that a single person may die of something nasty.

Waldo Warbler
Waldo Warbler
1 year ago

“Tim Martin’s remainer enemies are missing the point..”
Of COURSE they are. It is what they do.

George Glashan
George Glashan
1 year ago
Reply to  Waldo Warbler

They couldn’t find the point with both hands, and it was already in their hands.

Last edited 1 year ago by George Glashan
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

Little know fact – Tim Martin named his pub chain Wetherspoons after his history teacher who told him he’d never amount to anything.
Nice 🙂

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago

I thought that myself – it’s like a Brexit Derangement Syndrome with a ‘you’re either with us or against us’ medieval torch mob feel. I voted Remain, somewhat reluctantly, so I have always been a bit of a fence-sitter on this issue – I can see pros and cons on both sides, and that’s the point – there are pros and cons on both sides and lots in-between, as there is with any other political decision. But the absolute derision and self-righteousness of the Remain side really pushed me into more of a pro-Brexit mindset. If the establishment can be so vehemently against Brexit to the point of outright contempt for democracy then it MIGHT JUST BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Remainers often talk about Jacob Rees-Mogg as representing the rich stuffy Tory establishment who engineered a win for Brexit – always neglecting to mention the ACTUAL establishment which is largely a middle class left wing liberal elite in bed with the worst kind of globalist corporatism.

George Bruce
George Bruce
1 year ago

 he and Wetherspoons are symbols of cultural non-conformity.

I applaud his non-conformity on Brexit but in what way is Wetherspoons itself a symbol of non-conformity?
I have been in a few – are they not just big barns full of drinkers, with prices that undercut the opposition? Or is it just that the business methods are different?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
1 year ago
Reply to  George Bruce

Wetherspoons, like them as an establishment or not, are actually to be praised for two major achievements in my view.

  1. Saving many grade listed buildings up and down the country from redevelopment or demolition – they bought them up in the 70s and 80s.
  2. Saving real beer. Wetherspoons for quite a few years was the only mainstream establishment that sold real ale (that which is properly looked after and good quality). We would likely have lost most of our brewers if it wasn’t for them.

As for pricing to undercut the opposition – perhaps – but compared to other large groups such as Greene King they actually care about the British pub and real drinks at a good price. For example Greene King have been in trouble for hoovering up independent and smaller pubs only to sell them on as developments, all the while only promoting their own insipid brand. Spoons at least has quite a range of drinks and as far as I’m aware not conducted business purely to remove opposition and profiteer from selling onto developers.

Last edited 1 year ago by A Spetzari
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  George Bruce

I can only speak for mine (Angel Tube Station) – full of drunkards by lunch any day of the week. The rest of the country only gets drunk starting late Thursday.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeremy Smith
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  George Bruce

Wetherspoons; The Tescoisation of the once buoyant pub trade

Vivek Rajkhowa
Vivek Rajkhowa
1 year ago

Tim Martin looks a bit like Harry Enfield.

James Chater
James Chater
1 year ago
Reply to  Vivek Rajkhowa

Or a drag queen, semi-prepared.

Stuart Y
Stuart Y
1 year ago

Will this article be updated to reflect what he actually said? Or would that not suit someone’s “agenda”

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
1 year ago

..but it turns out he didn’t and this whole story is a strange kind of remainer flim flam…

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Craddock
Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
1 year ago

I suppose there was no way for the EU to row back and bring border control within the remit of the principle of subsidiarity. That in itself marks a ruinous inflexibility in that organisation.
What might have been, what might have been. Allowing the Uk to control its own borders without any interference would have prevented a Leave vote.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
1 year ago

That was a Remainer argument (if calling it an argument is not too flattering) – who will make the coffee/serve the drinks/pick the fruit, blah, blah, blah?
Well, who made the coffee/served the drinks/ picked the fruit 40 years ago?
Before cheap flights made foreign holidays affordable, millions and millions of people headed for the coast in the Uk for their holidays.
Did they go without food, drink and candy floss because there was nobody to serve them? Of course not.

Mr Wetherspoon, make it good and worthwhile to work in your pubs and people born here will want to work in your pubs.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kremlington Swan
ed+unherd
ed+unherd
1 year ago
Last edited 1 year ago by ed+unherd
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago

“Remain” implies there is something the UK currently belongs to that it could remain in. Need a rejoin movement, so old remainers don’t look like they are unaware that the UK isn’t part of the EU.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago

Maybe if our benefits system wasn’t so generous with the UK’s indigenous youth some might be tempted to do the odd bit of bar work to earn their crust?

David Jones
David Jones
1 year ago

As always, they deliberately confuse the principle of British control over British borders with a policy of closed borders; and controlled immigration with no immigration.

I don’t think that’s the issue. The point is that Freedom of Movement guaranteed rights for EU-origin workers, whereas what Martin seems to want is migrant workers with reduced rights so he can treat them worse – undercutting British employees’ pay and conditions.

Suzy O'Shea
Suzy O'Shea
1 year ago

What is the point except that Brexiteers are trying their favourite philosophy again of having your cake and eating it.
The most popular strategy Brexiteers used to win the support of the general public was an end to uncontrolled immigration, which required withdrawal from the EU both to cut down the numbers of valuable, educated, modestly paid workers coming from there and to allow the British government to actually attempt to control immigration, which they have singularly failed to do.
As numbers of good workers from EU states dwindled to nearly nothing, their places have been taken by often illiterate, workshy sponges, which this and all governments encourage with a small stipend whilst they decide on their right to remain. These blow-ins come from many countries that Trump described as arse holes of the world. Their numbers have increased so much that Britain is now taking in 600,000. That is an extra 100,000 a year since Nigel Farage moaned about the half a million a year coming into and clogging up the country’s resources. How is this controlling immigration?
So we have cut ourselves off from Europe, with all the economic dislocation and inconvenience that has caused, to act as host to 600,000 sponges and you want to pretend that this is controlling immigration?
Why doesn’t Martin offer higher wages to solve his staffing shortages than the peanuts he got used to paying Eastern European staff? Why doesn’t he apply to the Home Office and ask to employ some of the newly arrived blow-ins, helping them to become staff and productive members of society whilst waiting for the decision on their right to remain?

If this corrupt government could offer Dyson immediate sweet tax deals to manufacture ventilators in Britain why can’t they get their act together and allow in seasonal workers from the EU to cover the staffing shortages both in agriculture and the hospitality trade? Better still, why don’t they send Martin, some of the 600,000 blow-ins arriving on boats from France instead of supporting them. Martin could house and feed them as well as pay them. Problem solved!
Well educated, highly motivated Europeans prepared to work for peanuts won’t be returning any time soon, even if this corrupt government were to change its xenophobic policy. Brexit’s victory unleashed some very nasty traits amongst the British, which include xenophobia and racism. Since 2016 hate crimes of all descriptions have just exploded.
Why would any foreign workers worth their salt want to come to such a socially hostile country?
Seems you are on your own Martin. Better brush up on your Swahili and Urdu if you want to fill those vacant posts for just peanuts.

Last edited 1 year ago by Suzy O'Shea
Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzy O'Shea

How can someone who complains about “illiterate, workshy sponges” seriously claim the UK govt is ‘xenophobic’?

James Chater
James Chater
1 year ago

It’s also right that we should ask why industries like his own are so dependent on overseas labour — and whether higher wages might not be a better way of attracting the necessary personnel.” 
Absolutely, no doubt the actual real driver of the Leave vote being Freedom of Movement. If all this type of low/semi-skilled work had been properly paid, had good conditions etc. then Brexit would probably not have happened. With many posts filled by Brits the ‘pull’ factor would not have been so strong. The ‘market’ would be operating as it should.
I get why the Remain ‘elites’ get so much ill-will. But why do the Leave ‘elites’ seem to get away with it, given their less than fully patriotic business arrangements and money sheltering schemes?

James Slade
James Slade
1 year ago
Reply to  James Chater

The remain campaign are a sectional interest. They act in their own best interest. They are no different from pensioners or unions in that respect. The problem is that remainers have too much power and influence and unbalanced the economy and nation in pursuit of their own self interest. In the same way as the NUM 40 years ago, the remainers have tired to overthrew the democratic process rather than admit they went too far and comprise. The Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are seen have to be supportive of that sectional interest and consequently paid the electoral price for it. Putting your self interest ahead of the national interest garners more scrutiny.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Slade
James Chater
James Chater
1 year ago
Reply to  James Slade

If you mean the ‘Remainiacs’ then yes, they were a ‘sectional interest’ and caused alot of problems, as did the ERG aka the ‘Brexit Taliban’, also a ‘sectional interest’. Politicians on all sides failed.
Arguably, in another age that referendum would not have caused such a painful division because the spirit of compromise wouldn’t have been killed. It’s likely in a previous age more genuine care for the nation would have been shown.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Chater
James Slade
James Slade
1 year ago
Reply to  James Chater

No I mean the people that benefited from cheap labour that mass migration brings and had the capital to afford second homes on the continent.

James Chater
James Chater
1 year ago
Reply to  James Slade

You mean the ‘elite’ on all sides.

L Paw
L Paw
1 year ago
Reply to  James Chater

No he means the people who drove around with stickers saying ‘*****CK* to Brexit’, or ‘Don’t blame me I voted Remain’, employ east European migrant builders, nannies, gardeners etc.., work in public sector or certain professions, the City and live in big houses often southern England. They weren’t affected by wage competition, vote Lib Dem/Labour, progressive, hate flag waving, Uni educated. Above all they know better than the rest of us, like the EU and many UK politicians. They and their fellow travellers tried tho subvert democracy and overturn the will of British people.

Don Corleone
Don Corleone
1 year ago
Reply to  L Paw

“employ east European migrant builders, nannies, gardeners etc.., work in public sector or certain professions, the City and live in big houses often southern England” Far from voting Lib Dem/Labour, this describes the stereotypical Tory voter south of the Midlands (and, geography apart, many north of there) plus the majority of MPs, including fanatical Brexiteers.
“….overturn the will of British people” – can also be read as ‘represent over 48% of those who voted in the referendum’.
As for ‘they know better than the rest of us’, by the same token, can I assume ‘the rest of you’ know better than ‘them’?
This isn’t going to go away, ever, is it? Quite a thought, that. Like an axe wound or something. Absolutely split, and it’s never going to get better.

James Chater
James Chater
1 year ago
Reply to  L Paw

My, my. Had the result been the other way round my guess it would have been ‘unfinished business’, as Nigel Farage said before the referendum. We would not have heard the end of it.
The result speaks for itself. A margin of 3.8% 1.3 million votes. Hardly resounding.
Don’t try to make out that every leave vote came from downtrodden dispossessed people. And don’t try and make out all those who voted to remain were unpatriotic, ‘metropolitan’ elites.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Chater
David Jones
David Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  L Paw

employ east European migrant builders, nannies, gardeners etc.., work in public sector or certain professions, the City and live in big houses often southern England.

Public secotr and professionals are often LibDem or Labour-voting remainers, I will grant you, but not the City, and not most people in big houses with nannies who employ builders

They weren’t affected by wage competition

Anyone truly concerned about wage competition would be very sceptical of a free trade “global Britain” strategy that aims to undercut farmers, manufacturers and many other jobs. The single market offered far more protections.

They and their fellow travellers tried tho subvert democracy and overturn the will of British people.

I don’t see how wanting *more* votes could be seen as subverting democracy. A 2% margin of victory does not represent a very strongly expressed national “will”. As it turns out, many of the people most affected – from fishers to farmers to NI Unionists to the people of Kent – are not happy with the way Brexit turned out and should have had more of a say on the final arrangements.

David Jones
David Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  James Slade

There’s plenty of evidence that those with most capital voted Leave, as they were confident of being less affected by the economic fallout. There also seems to be plenty of anecdotal evidence that a lot of Leavers have second homes on the continent too: from Andrew Neil and Dominic Lawson to all the British residents in Spain who are disappointed with the end of Freedom of Movement. Tim Martin seems to be asking for more cheap labour to be imported – and without FoM rights it will probably be even cheaper and accepting of even worse conditions, undercutting British workers.

David Jones
David Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  James Chater

no doubt the actual real driver of the Leave vote being Freedom of Movement. If all this type of low/semi-skilled work had been properly paid, had good conditions etc. then Brexit would probably not have happened. With many posts filled by Brits the ‘pull’ factor would not have been so strong. The ‘market’ would be operating as it should.

Indeed, and the irony is that the migration Leave campaigners like Martin want will mean cheap workers with even less rights – leading to undercutting British workers.

I get why the Remain ‘elites’ get so much ill-will. But why do the Leave ‘elites’ seem to get away with it, given their less than fully patriotic business arrangements and money sheltering schemes?

It’s a good question, apart from blaming the press, which has some truth but is too easy, I think their bad behaviour is simply less visible and more complicated to fully understand – it’s too remote and abstract for the most part. That’s why Biden’s moves on this are welcome, and should be embraced by the British government if they truly want to “level up”.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
1 year ago

An article full of absurd cliches.
My ‘Spoon (across the street of Angel Tube Station) is full drunkards by lunch time. Clearly the True People.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Wetherspoons was great for pre-drinking back when I was a student. 1 pound 80 a pint back then. Just wished they had music.