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Drop all food tariffs for 3.5p off a Wetherspoon’s meal, says pub chain chairman

Unilaterally dropping all food tariffs after Brexit would give pub diners 3.5p off their meals, according to JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin.


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Drop all food tariffs for 3.5p off a Wetherspoon’s meal, says pub chain chairman

Mr Martin made the case for pursuing a cheap food policy as he gave evidence to MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee last week.

 

The Wetherspoon pub chain has estimated slashing all tariffs after leaving the EU would also knock 0.5p off the cost of a pint.

 

“I think we should, particularly where food and drink are concerned, decide ourselves as a country to eliminate all tariffs on food”, Mr Martin said.

 

“They have done this in New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia to an extent and they have very successful economies.


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Tremendous

 

“There are tremendous income benefits for people in the country, greater purchasing power if we follow that route.”

 

Asked what would happen to British farmers if the UK dropped tariffs but the EU kept its own in place, the pub mogul said he thought they would do ‘extremely well’.

 

“Businesses tend to be less efficient when they are protected by tariffs”, he added.

 

“I think productivity would go up. It might be difficult for some, you cannot rule that out, but I believe British farmers would do well.”

 

The Department for International Trade is said to be considering this course of action if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal, but several studies have shown a unilateral drop in tariffs would be catastrophic for UK farmers, with prices across all commodities plummeting.

Damage

 

Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain, an alliance of food and farming organisations, was also giving evidence to the committee and told MPs of the damage a cheap food policy could cause.

 

She said: “If you get really cheap food which is not well policed, you have more food poisoning; you have horrible processing methods such as irradiation or bleaching chicken to clear up faeces on meat; you get disgusting working conditions; poor animal welfare and British farmers losing out because they cannot compete on this basis.

 

“The University of Oxford has calculated this costs the NHS £6bn for diet-related disease and £1.9bn for foodborne illness, so there are costs to cheap food.

 

“Cheap food is quite expensive.”

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