Tim Martin has threatened to have a "debate" in 100 of his 1,000 pubs. Here is the poster for the first batch of 30 odd. Please see if you can mount a group to attend and stand up for truth. There has been quite a lot of successful intervention so far, arranged on a group by group basis.


CARLISLE - 10.30am 

WORKINGTON - 1.00pm 

WHITEHAVEN - 2.30pm 



BURNLEY - 10.30am 

PRESTON - 1.00pm 



WREXHAM - 11am


Here is your briefing (by DM from Wolverhampton with various inputs):

Dealing with Tim Martins’ Wetherspoons ‘Debates’

The ‘Debates’

TM’s posters invite both Remainers and Leavers to take part in a DEBATE.

TM does not allow a debate at all.

TM gives a speech and then he chooses who to take questions from.

(I have told TM that he is not giving a debate and he refused my suggestion to allow responses after 1-2 of his speech points)

TM’s Motives

TM’s speeches seem aimed to reinforce the misinformation and propaganda received by his audience before, during and since the Brexit referendum.

The audience

This is predominantly of older middle-aged regular W’s customers, mostly male who are mostly avid for TM’s anti-EU messages. You will be Outnumbered (and not in a nice Hugh Dennis way !)

How to deal with TM’s speech

There is no time-period given to challenge TM’s ‘facts’ or opinions

To challenge him:-

A. Interrupt TM after an untruth with shouts – eg “no” / “ untrue” or short contradicting statements OR

B. Start a question with a correcting fact or make your question a challenge

If you are a group

Plan/ share out the challenges /questions

Plan to stand together or spread out – together you may feel ‘safer’ but this may give less impression of widespread opposition

TM’s speech content

Largely the same at each Wetherspoons’ .

Just After The “Debate” – using the Media

The local newspaper is always there and sometimes the national press and TV reporters.

TM always seems to have an arrangement to go quickly to the media present who will have been recording him/the ‘debate’.

If possible arrange for 1+ of your group to speak to the media - maybe best before the ‘debate’ and arrange to also be interviewed by them to give your opinion of the debate and what (misleading rubbish !!) TM has said.

TM’s Specifics Points

1. UK has no legal or moral liability to pay the ‘UK-EU divorce bill’ *.

2. A. The EU is protectionist and leaving the EU with no deal – ie on WTO terms is

B. no problem C. a new dawn of free trade **

3. A. High Tariffs? B. Abolishing tariffs will give UK households great savings on food and clothing .

4. The EU as non/anti-democratic.

5. Leaving will ‘give us back our sovereignty’

6. Those leading for remaining in the EU are a ‘metropolitan London elite’

7. Supporters staying in the EU have a ‘hard to explain’ obsession with Europe

8. (When you quote expert supported facts) “experts were wrong before ... ”.

9. Fisheries brought back under UK control

Responding to TM Specific points

1. The “Divorce” Bill of £39B is a cost of previous, ongoing and UK-planned engagement within the EU including during the scheduled EU-UK divorce transition period (around half is for getting all the usual EU benefits for the 2 yrs of the Transition period).

By not honouring this phased repayment, friends who have been working for the European Union Institutions all their lives and whole pensions could be jeopardised if the UK pays nothing. These are obligations to living and breathing people, not just a figure in the air.

Additionally the UK will further diminish its’ Brexit-damaged international reputation and could also damage the UK’s credit rating at a time when the national debt has near-doubled (from around 1 trillion to 1.8 trillion) since David Cameron became PM.

Ref. https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/eu-divorce-bill

Ref. https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-divorce-bill/

2. A. Tim Martin says that “the EU is a protectionist system... “

In fact:-

i. Trade amongst the 28 EU member states is free; the EU is one of the largest free trade blocs in the world.

Ref. House of Commons Briefing: Statistics on UK-EU Trade, 4 July 2018).

The EU’s agricultural tariffs are lower than those of Norway, Switzerland and Canada and many others. On the World Bank Index , EU nations are in ranked in positions 143 to 170 of 177 nations (1st being most protectionist).

Ref. Open Letter to MPs — Don’t believe Tim Martin’s nonsense on tariffs.

ii. The EU has a ‘zero tariff’ policy for world’s poorest ~47 countries EU has a lower average tariff level than the US (of around 1.5 per cent @).

The EU offers developing countries the most generous preferential trading schemes in the World. “Under Everything But Arms” (EBA), which applies to the 49 least developed countries, tariffs are entirely eliminated for all goods except weapons. Under the “Generalized System of Preferences” (GSP) most tariffs are eliminated and many significantly reduced. Free trade agreements (FTAs) and preferences for developing countries mean EU imports from 135 countries are mostly free of tariffs.

Ref. http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2012/january/tradoc_148990.pdf

2 B. TM says that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ on World Trade organisation (WTO) rules terms will be fine.

i. The realities are very different ..

Under WTO rules, each member must grant the same “most favoured nation” (MFN) market access to all other WTO members – that is, exports to the EU would be subject to the same customs checks, tariffs and regulatory barriers that the UK and EU currently charge on trade with countries such as the US. Imposing tariffs on trade with the EU would increase costs for both UK importers – and thus consumers – and exporters.

One suggestion is that the UK scrap all tariffs and regulations for EU imports and continue to accept all products from the EU without checks. But, according to the WTO rules, the UK has to treat everyone equally. If the UK allowed all food products, tariff-free and without checks into the UK market, this could be very damaging to UK farmers and the food industry.


@ Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-and-trade-why-stakes-for-business-are-so-high-1-4819738

ii. Therefore ...

... estimates are that a “No Deal WTO rules only” scenario would reduce the UK’s trade with the EU by 40% over ten years. This reduced trade would mean a fall in income per head of 2.6% per year (net of the savings from no membership fees). There would also be longer-term negative effects from lower investment and slower productivity growth, which are estimated to be another 3.5% per year of GDP. The short-term disruption resulting from the sudden imposition of these WTO rules could exacerbate these negative effects. Adopting a policy of unilateral free trade would mitigate part of these costs. But the savings from unilateral tariff cuts are estimated to be just 0.35% of GDP.

Ref. The Centre for Economic Performance http://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/No-Deal-The-WTO-Option-Fact-sheet.pdf

2 C. EU and Free trade

TM says UK will enter a new dawn of free trade

i. The EU has free trade agreements (FTAs) with more countries (69 including the recent Japan deal which covers 600m people and one third of global GDP and will save EU nations £1B/ year + ) than any other trade bloc or country on the planet. The EU itself is the largest free trade area in the world (28 nations). The tariff eliminations from FTAs and exceptions for developing countries mean that the EU is among the least protectionist markets in the World.

Ref. Open Letter to MPs — Don’t believe Tim Martin’s nonsense on tariffs.

+ Ref EU Press Release. Quote from the EC President. 17 July 2018

ii. The EU has 36 free trade deals with 60 non-EU countries .. accounting for around 15% of all British imports and exports. Without the deals ... WTO terms Britain’s exporters would face tariffs levied at 5% to almost 30% .. and would no longer participate in the 14 services agreements struck by the EU , including the trade agreement .. with South Korea.

Ref. Beth Oppenheim . Centre for European Reform. 10 Oct 2017.

3. A. Tim Martin says the “ ... the EU charges import taxes (tariffs) on over 12,000 goods, which included rice, oranges, coffee, New World wine and children's clothes

This statement is at least misleading because these goods are imported into the UK mostly with no tariff ...

Wine Wine from Chile and dozens of other countries is imported into the EU tariff-free and without quota. From South Africa, it enters tariff-free under a quota amounting to nearly 150 million bottles per annum.

The EU tariff on Australian & NZ wine amounts to 6.5p to 8p a bottle. UK wine duty, charged by HM Govt, is 27 TIMES higher at £2.16 a bottle + VAT on duty. Also, as the EU is negotiating an FTA with both Australia and New Zealand it will be zero in future – which if we leave will NOT apply in the UK

Rice Under EU Regulation EC 972/2006 unlimited quantities of basmati rice from India and Pakistan may be imported into the EU entirely free of duty (about 450,000 tonnes annually, about half of all EU rice imports and most imported into the UK. Of the remainder, approximately 300,000 tonnes are imported from Cambodia, Myanmar, Guyana, Surinam and other developing or FTA countries tariff-free.

Oranges With regard to oranges, we have free trade agreements with South Africa, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Peru and Mexico so that imports from these countries almost entirely tariff-free.

Coffee There are no tariffs on green coffee beans. While there is a tariff of 7.5% on roasted coffee beans it is entirely misleading to raise it as a concern as there is virtually no inter-continental trade in roasted coffee beans. This is not because of tariffs but because once coffee beans are roasted they immediately begin to lose value and quality.

Clothing Clothes are potentially liable to a tariff, but are not subject to this tariff when exported by a trade partner. About 60% of our clothing imports come from countries where the tariff does not apply. The EU of course, plus Turkey, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan are the most notable.

Ref. Open Letter to MPs — Don’t believe Tim Martin’s nonsense on tariffs.

3.B. TM says that abolishing tariffs will give great savings ...

i. .... for businesses

The reality is different

Every WTO member has a list of tariffs (taxes on imports of goods) and quotas (limits on the number of goods) that they apply to other countries. These are known as their WTO schedules.

The average EU tariff rate is low – around 1.5 per cent. However, for specific goods the tariffs would be much larger: for cars and car parts the tariff rate is 10 per cent. The impacts would also be large on agriculture, where EU tariffs and quotas remain high, rising to an average of over 35 per cent for dairy products. The UK’s fishing exports to the EU would be subject to a 9.6 per cent tariff under WTO-only rules. Clothes manufactured in the UK and exported to the EU would be subject to an 11 per cent tariff. But the main cost of doing business across borders comes from non-tariff barriers such as border checks, custom controls and compliance with different product standards and regulations across countries. Under WTO rules, without mutual recognition agreements for product standards, UK products could require further checks at the border. UK businesses could end up having to produce two different product lines – one for the UK and one for the EU.

@ Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-and-trade-why-stakes-for-business-are-so-high-1-4819738

ii. .... for UK households on food and clothing

Again, the reality is different

The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says that the maximum tariff reduction after Brexit would reduce UK household prices by 1.2% at most. Note that Jacob Rees –Mogg has said that EU tariff removal will give a 21% saving (also includes the numbers 1 and 2 but in a different order !! ) .

To protect our domestic producers (esp. farmers and food manufacturers) likely actual tariff cuts by UK Govt would save shoppers about 0.4%. (Stick that on the side of a bus!).

Ref. www.politics.co.uk › Blogs › Ian Dunt

4. The EU iss non/anti-democratic.

The EU is a group of nations forming a state which has combined policy areas into shared institutions that can make laws which apply to all participating states. Unlike most nation states foreign policy, defence policy and most tax policies are mostly under the control of each member state.

The structure of the EU is based on representative democracy with elections made to the legislative arms of the EU, the European Parliament (elected by European citizens every 5 years) and the European Council. Which is made up of national government heads of states. Laws are proposed by the EU Commission is appointed to the Parliament and Council but has few executive posts. This structure is based upon the 2-level systems of the UK and US, with a Parliament representing EU citizens directly and a Council representing the nation states.

The EU is a legal personality and a set of governing instituitions empowered by the treaties agreed by the member states.

The 2 legislative powers of the EU are directives and regulations.

Directives requires the nation states to pass the new law individually. A regulation takes effect immediately and is immediately effective.

The European Parliament (EP) shares the legislative and budgetary authority of the Union with the European Council (EC) and has equal powers in most areas. The EP, unlike the Council, has authority over the Commission.

The EC meets 4 times per year to define the EU’s policy areas and give impetus to integration. The EC President (Donald Tusk) has the responsibility of chairing and driving forward its’ work.

The Commission consists of one appointee per member state but is designed to be independent of national interests. It has a monopoly of legislative initiatives and drafts all EU law. It also deals with day to day running of EU and has a duty to uphold the law and treaties ( “Guardian of the Treaties”). The Commission President (Jean-Paul Juncker) is nominated by the EC & approved by the EP. The remaining 27 Commissioners are nominated by the member states in consultation with the President who assigns their portfolios. The Commission is voted on by both EC and EP and the EP interviews nominees individually. Unanimous votes for the Commission are required by both the EC and EP.

Ref https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union

5. Leaving will ‘give us back our sovereignty’

The UK still controls most domestic fiscal legislation (eg taxes, benefits) as well as defence and foreign policy.

The governing institutions of the EU do not have sovereignty invested within them; instead sovereignty is pooled with ultimate sovereignty residing within the national governments.

The EU has delegated to it certain tasks or competencies including the management of the marketplace, free movement of persons, employment, transportation and environment.

Ref https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union

6. TM Those leading for remaining in the EU are a ‘metropolitan London elite’

Demonstrably daft although most politicians who held top posts in Govt are Remainers. The Leave campaign leaders include top public school & Oxbridge MPs and was funded largely by a bunch of multi-millionaires * and include a major donation from Arron Banks who is under criminal investigation because the >£8M that he contributed likely has foreign (Russian?) and therefore illegal origin. Peter Oborne has written about the potential significance of a conviction for the status of the 2016 referendum (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6348317/PETER-OBORNE-voted-Brexit-claims-Russian-influence-deeply-troubling.html)].

* see attached image (I can’t find a link).

7. TM says supporters of Remain have a “ hard to explain quasi-religious obsession with Europe.”

Support for the EU includes around 200 local groups in towns, cities and regions within the UK who are campaigning to remain; the people involved are a broad cross-section of the UK.

As Steve Bray told me yesterday (16-1-19) at Westminster when I asked him what his motivation has been for his continuing campaigning his answer was immediate, direct and unamabiguous .. “ For my Children and Grandchildren.” I believe that most of us would say this or that we are campaigning ‘for the UK’ (... not the EU).

8. TM will say/imply that the 2018 GNP growth contrasts with experts saying there would be no or very little growth.

In September of 2018 actual GDP growth was about 5% against (ie similar) ’expert’ combined forecast of about 4.5%. (so the error is not greta at all)/ Also the forecast for UK GDP growth assuming a ‘Yes vote’ was about 6.5% (ie 1.5% more than the actual Sept 2018 figure)

Ref. https://fullfact.org/economy/how-accurate-have-brexit-forecasts-been-referendum/

Subsequent study of GDP growth of other countries over the 2016-18 period confirms that the 6.5% GDP growth was a reasonable estimate. Thus the UK has lost GDP growth of 1.3% worth £20B per year as a result of the Brexit referendum result.

Ref, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-uk-economy-losses-eu-referendum-result-billions-leave-european-union-a8081841.html/

9. TM says Fisheries will be brought back under UK control (implying priority of fishing rights to UK fishermen)

In reality ....

The situation is complex because fish migrate so do not ‘belong’ to any particular part of the ocean and existing and historical fishing rights cross the boundaries of national waters.

Ref. https://theconversation.com/fact-check-is-80-of-uk-fish-given-away-to-the-rest-of-europe-39966

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the mechanism and set of rules through which European fishing fleets and fish stocks are managed. It began in 1970 and was most recently reformed in 2014. All member states are members, but only 23 of the EU 28 are coastal states. It gives all European fishing fleets equal access to EU waters to create fair competition. It aims to ensure that European fishing is sustainable, balancing the desire to maximise catches with conserving fish stocks.

Quotas are set annually by the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on the basis of advice from international and EU bodies like the International Council on the Exploration of the Sea and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries. Quotas set for commercial fish stock must comply with the CFP’s goal of meeting sustainability targets, known as maximum sustainable yield, by 2020.

Once the overall EU quotas are agreed, member states are given a percentage on the basis of relative stability, which includes several factors such as historical catch data and the needs of coastal communities which are particularly dependent on fisheries.

Each fishing vessel receives individual quotas. For stocks that are shared with non-EU countries, quotas are agreed bilaterally or multilaterally, often through regional fisheries management organisations, such as the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).

Some have criticised the equal access of EU vessels to UK waters. They argue that as the UK has a relatively large fishing zone compared to many of its continental European neighbours, EU fishermen benefit more from access to UK waters, a criticism supported by the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The transnational nature of fisheries may limit the UK’s options after leaving the CFP.

Setting unilateral quotas would likely cause international disputes, such as the ‘mackerel wars’ of 2010-11, when negotiations between the European Commission and Iceland and the Faroe Islands broke down.

The UK’s ability to restrict access to its waters may be limited by historical claims by European fishermen. In the past, tribunals and international courts have often ruled in favour of historic access rights to waters and against those looking to limit access.

Ref, https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/common-fisheries-policy

UK Fishing Quota Agreements for 2015

The Government hailed the quota agreements as a fair deal, and the National Fisherman’s’ Federation Organisation (NFFO) saw the deal as striking a balance between protecting fishing livelihoods, whilst continuing to rebuild fish stocks.


TM does not mention that the 80% of British fishermen with boats of <30m in length have been restricted to 5% of the fish catch quota that the UK agreed within the EU by the UK Government (ie not the EU).

Refs New European 2018 (exact date to be re-found) & John Prescott , in the Mirror, “Greed sank the UK fishing industry, not the EU” 24 March 2018.

.. nor that around >70% of the fish that UK fishermen catch is exported to the other countries of Europe – requiring Common Market access. With no deal we face tariffs of 2-20%.

Ref House of Lords Report Brexit: Fisheries,

What TM does NOT speak about ..


Winston Churchill was 1st President of the European Movement and was eloquent about the importance of trade between European nations (with it social and cultural sequelae too) as a way of preserving peace.

Divergent economies could lead to conflict in the future – wars are usually about money, wealth, land – assets.

The 28 nations of the EEC and EU. have not fought one another for the 70 years since WW2 – a record across 2 millennia.

ii. Immigration and migration

TM does not admit to having an issue with immigration .. note many of his employees are from other countries of Europe.

One ‘debate’ questioner suggested that if Brexit happens he should pay his overseas employee visa costs ! TM said he had not thought of that before .. (but might now?).