The Wetherspoon boss ignited a fiery Brexit debate at Eastbourne’s Cornfield Garage this afternoon (January 10).
Tensions grew at the pub in Cornfield Road as Tim Martin drew crowds of vocal Brexiteers and Remainers alike.
The controversial businessman did a speech about why he believes no-deal Brexit is the best option and then took a number of questions.
Tensions were rising throughout as Remainers heckled Mr Martin, and in turn were booed by Brexiteers.
The large turnout, of more than 100 people, was a ‘record’ for the pub boss’ Brexit tour, he said.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Martin told the Herald, “I think it was a lively debate, I think there were quite a few people who didn’t share my views, so it’s always good to have that sort of discussion.
“I think debate and discussion, particularly in newspapers and on the television, is what democracy is about, and I think it creates, from all its apparent chaos from time to time, solutions and alternatives.
“So hopefully we all understand each other a bit better today in Eastbourne.”
He added, “This is the biggest attendance I’ve had. Word’s got out now, there’s been a fair amount of publicity and people have come along so it’s good. I’m so glad.”
The Herald asked what Mr Martin would say to people who say the country will be worse off with a no-deal Brexit.
He said, “We’d be better off with no deal, we can avoid paying £39 billion for which there’s no legal liability, we can eliminate tariffs on thousands of items we buy in our shops and we can regain control of fishing.
“Above all we can increase the level of democracy in the UK.”
We asked Mr Martin what makes him so sure we won’t have to pay the £39 billion Brexit divorce bill – a figure agreed on by Westminster and Brussels to cover the outstanding contributions to the EU this country committed to paying in 2013.
He said, “Because I’ve read the House of Lords report and they say there’s no legal liability for the £39 billion.”
But won’t it make us look bad if we are hoping to trade with other countries if we don’t keep to our agreements?
“No,” Mr Martin said, “The Withdrawal Agreement has to be approved by the EU government, and by the UK Parliament, so it’s a conditional agreement.”
And with that, Mr Martin was off to his next stop in Sussex.
Were you there? What did you think of the debate? Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org