Video: Things got heated when Wetherspoon boss brought his pro-Brexit tour to York

Tim Martin in the Punch Bowl on Blossom Street. Photograph: YorkMix

Wherever you’re a diehard remainer or fervent Brexiteer, you have to hand it to Tim Martin.

All the politicians who came to York during the Brexit referendum campaign hid behind megaphones and closed doors.

But the boss of the JD Wetherspoon pub company brought the debate right to the people – the people in his own pubs.


Long a Brexiteer, Mr Martin is now campaigning for a no-deal exit from the EU. His 100-pub tour of Britain came to York on Tuesday (January 8), when he spoke in the main bar of the Punch Bowl on Blossom Street.

In often noisy scenes, he took questions and was challenged by those who want Britain to remain in the EU.

Free democracy

York for Europe outside the Punch Bowl
During the 40-minute session he was asked about the spike in hate crime after the referendum, potential restrictions on young people studying at EU universities, fish quotas and farmers.

He said:

  • I say we should leave on the 29th of March, without a deal.

    Because the deal being proposed is terrible, keeps us tied in, and we’ll be more prosperous on day one.

A group from York for Europe demonstrated outside the Wetherspoon’s pub, with placards reading Leave Means Lies.

Mr Martin even posed with their caricature of Theresa May heading off a cliff edge, bearing the question, “If Brexit was a car would you still buy it?”

Tim Martin with the Theresa May banner. Photograph: York for Europe

In a statement York for Europe said: “In a brief but agreeable exchange we agreed that we couldn’t fathom Theresa May’s approach which seemed to please nobody and that she seemed to be listening to neither side of the debate.

“He seemed to appreciate York for Europe’s right to demonstrate peacefully as part of a functioning and free democracy.

“We agreed that democracy was a process in which dialogue was important.”