Tim Martin knows exactly what he's doing. / Members' letter #17

The Wetherspoon boss defends a world where immigration is not a right of individuals, but a privilege of employers.

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

Tim Martin, who's tied with James Dyson for Biggest Brexiteer in British Business, supplied my Twitter feed with easy outrage this week. In an interview with The Telegraph, the founder of pub chain Wetherspoon called for a visa scheme to address staff shortages in his industry. The end of free movement, compounded by the departure of many Europeans who lost their jobs during the pandemic, threatens the recovery of the UK hospitality sector. Easing the arrival of workers from near neighbours in Europe would help, Martin said. Who'll be pouring the pints if not Romanians?

The interview was custom-made for Schadenfreude. Anti-EU businessman finds out the EU was good for business after all. Hampering immigration hampers hiring immigrants, who knew? Brexiteer regrets Brexit. Remainer Twitter, which is to be honest 95% of my timeline, was a festival of 'I told you so's. Allow me to be contrarian: Tim Martin did not backtrack.

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