Playing the Spoons – The Tim Martin Brexit Show

Published on by Martin Vessey (author)

Tim Martin (photo: Mole)
Tim Martin

David Maslin is a man on a mission.

As Tim Martin, the ebullient Wetherspoons owner, tours his estate of pubs preaching his vision of a no-deal Brexit to a converted congregation, Maslin has so far clocked up seven of the "Brexit Debates".

As a super fan might stalk their favourite pop star, so Maslin has followed the pub boss deep into Leave voting territory from Wolverhampton to Eastbourne, Hull to Hastings.

In fact Martin refers to Maslin by his first name, joking that the two have got to know each other well over the last fortnight. But there is little love lost between the two.

At one point Maslin asks loudly about the value of tariffs on a basket of staples such as cheese and butter in the event of a no-deal Brexit, to which Martin quips, to the delight of some of the audience, that this isn't Trivial Pursuit.

Vocal elements in the crowd tell Maslin to shut up and there is some unbelievably choice language hurled towards him. Martin, however, doesn't actually address the question.

Catching up with Maslin after the "Tim Martin Show" he likened the event more to a Trump rally than a debate on the finer points of Martin's arguments. And it easy to see how he makes the comparison.

Martin's manner is casual yet authoritative, unflustered yet quick to shut down opposing views from the handful of detractors scattered round the room. As he drops buzz words and phrases like "sovereignty", "democracy" and "unelected Brussels bureaucrats" into his monologue the crowd whoops and brays. "Juncker" elicits particularly vocal hisses and boos.

These people are his base; mainly late middle-aged white men, no longer working, with time on their hands, proud but ultimately dependent on the bargain prices of food and drink from the bar.

Maslin says he is funding his anti-tour himself, paying for his own travel and accommodation. He explains it his personal mission on behalf of the United Kingdom to redress what he sees as the misinformation presented to an ill-informed electorate.

While he is not necessarily in favour of a second referendum he says he is increasingly convinced that it might be the only way out of the political impasse. Leaving the EU without any form of deal may well hurt most those Tim Martin purports to speak up for.

And as Maslin leaves to catch the train to the next event, scheduled in Eastbourne in an hour, one can't help feeling there is the touch of an evangelist about him, turning the other cheek, taking the insults ... for his country.


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