Voting to remain in the European Union would be “very bad news for the future of humanity” leaving Britain exposed to the sort of economic mess seen in mainland Europe, a prominent business leader has warned.
Tim Martin — the founder and Non-Executive Chairman of the FTSE 250 pub company JD Wetherspoon PLC — made the comments in an interview with the BBC, during which he warned about the undemocratic nature of the European Union (EU).
“Democracy equals prosperity,” he said, “and slowly democracy is being removed by the European Union, and power is being put in the hands of unelected people in Europe.”
He observed that the effects of such moves are most keenly felt in Greece and Spain “where they don’t even have control over their own budget or over their own interest rates which are the key controls that a democratic country has.”
Pointing out the result of doing away with democracy in this way, Mr. Martin explained:
“Democracy has gone hand in hand with the highest level of prosperity for decades and decades and decades.
“West Germany was much more successful economically than East Germany, South Korea is more successful than North Korea. North America is the best example, with its democratic constitution, and look at South America, poor people who live in so many of the countries there, they haven’t had democracy, and which is the most successful country?”
Mr. Martin said this link between democracy and prosperity is “instinctively” known by people irrespective of “clever debating points”, and that breaking that link means “you ‘ll get Greece and you’ll get Spain, and you will get the massive economic problems you are now having when democracy is removed from people. That’s the key issue.”
For Mr. Martin the issue is so serious that it dictates the future of the world itself. He warned:
“If the world is going to survive in the long run you have to entrench democracy, and if you don’t and you get autocracy in its various types of forms its very bad news for the future of humanity. It sounds slightly dramatic but I’m certain that’s true.
“Free press, free democratic elections and accountability, not transferring power to aparatchiks in Brussels.”
Mr. Martin is a long-standing opponent of the European project, first cutting his Eurosceptic teeth in a campaign to reject the single currency. At the time he spent £40,000 of his own money to fill Wetherspoon pubs with 500,000 anti-euro beermats and 10,000 posters.
Explaining why he did that in 2002, he told the Guardian: “Because the euro is going to fuck up the country and I really do mean that.”
Mr. Martin’s most recent intervention in favour of Brexit came on the same day he and 249 other businessmen declared their support for British independence.
Others lending their names to the suggestion that the EU acts as a hindrance to the bedrock of Britain’s small and medium-sized businesses include: Michael Geoghegan, former Chief Executive of HSBC Group; Rocco Forte, chief executive of Rocco Forte Hotels; Odey Asset Management hedge fund manager Crispin Odey; Jon Moulton, founder of Better Capital; and Peter Morgan, a former director-general of the Institute of Directors.