How Brexit could Benefit the UK’s Pubs and Clubs

Harry Todd argues that Brexit will be brilliant for Britain's nightlife!

by Harry Todd on 23 October 2019 12:40

The European Union imposes duties on beers, wines and spirits from outside the Single Market. This means wine imported from countries like Australia, New Zealand as well as wines and beers from America and rum from the Caribbean are all more expensive as a result of being in the EU. The duties imposed by the EU may seem to be very small in comparison to those which are also imposed by our own Government - they add just 24p to the price of a bottle of wine, 10p per pint of sparkling cider, and just 2p to a bottle of rum. Seems like a bargain… except when you factor in quantity

A study done in 2015, undertaken on behalf of the company Voucherbox, found Britons were drinking an average of 54 bottles of wine every second! The most recent reports say roughly 28% of UK wine supplies come from Australia and 15.6% comes from the USA. This means for every minute which goes by, we consume 907 bottles of Australian wine and 505 bottles of American wine. From these sales the EU nets a tidy profit of £338.88 a minute. Over a normal week (and making reasonable assumptions as to opening hours) this amounts to roughly £1,423,296 in duties being paid directly to the EU just on Australian and American wines per week. It’s easy to see why some estimates say the UK accounts for roughly 40% of all revenue raised by the EU’s duties on alcohol!

Looking in little bit more detail though, we see the small duties begin to look a lot bigger, because when a company is dealing with tight profit margins (as pubs and night clubs often are) those small amounts on each bottle and pint really can make a difference. In 2018 an average of 18 pubs a week closed in the UK. If each pub was selling just 20 bottles of non-Single Market wine a day (which according to figures is a very low estimate) they were giving £336 a week to the EU. This may not seem like much, but for some businesses, this could be their entire profit margin.

Outside direct costs, there is also a huge impact on pubs and clubs in terms of EU rules and regulations. Tim Martin, owner of the Wetherspoons pub chain, often makes a point of saying whilst his business is able to adapt to changing EU rules and regulations, many small chains or individual pubs cannot, and as such fall foul of bureaucratic nonsense. This is exemplified best with Value Added Tax (VAT). At present the UK has very little control over our VAT system and pub meals are subject to the full 20% rate. However, once we Leave the EU, we would be able to remove this tax by zero-rating pub food and giving pub owners the ability to both drop their prices and increase their profits at the same time!

So, let’s give our nightlife economy a boost. Let’s Get Britain Out of the European Union by October 31st.


Harry Todd is a Senior Research Executive at Eurosceptic campaign Get Britain Out

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