Tim Martin has called for more EU migration to help tackle the shortage of bar staff working in the UK.
The Wetherspoons boss, who campaigned for Brexit and even printed pro-leave material on 1.9 million beer mats, urged prime minister Boris Johnson to introduce a “reasonably liberal immigration system” controlled by Britain rather than the European Union.
He recommended the government adopt a visa scheme for workers from the bloc to help the country’s pubs and restaurants hire more staff as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes as roughly one in ten hospitality workers are thought to have left the sector over the past 12 months, leading to an estimated shortfall of about 188,000 workers, according to recruitment website Caterer.com.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Martin said: “The UK has a low birth rate. A reasonably liberal immigration system controlled by those we have elected, as distinct from the EU system, would be a plus for the economy and the country.
“America, Australia and Singapore have benefitted for many decades from this approach. Immigration combined with democracy works.”
His comments provoked a bewildered reaction on social media.
Pro-EU campaigner Femi Oluwole wrote: “I really hope Tim Martin never runs into Tim Martin. He’s gonna be so angry!”
Labour councillor Freddie Bailey, of Preston City Council, said: “Pro-Brexit Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has called for more EU migration to tackle the worker shortage.
“Do I really need to say anything?”
Correction: This article is based on UK Daily Telegraph reporting that has since been found to be misleading. The article may have given the impression that Wetherspoons in common with other companies in the hospitality sector was struggling to recruit staff. In fact, Wetherspoons is not facing staff shortages or recruitment issues. We apologise for any confusion and are happy to correct the record.