Interview by Helen Atkinson
The Hope Inn is a recognisable landmark in Stockport, a familiar sight for those travelling north from the city towards Manchester, and my local. Martin Wood is the is the owner and landlord; I popped in to chat to him over a pint about Brexit. You’re probably thinking that every landlord of every pub in Britain is sick of the word Brexit by now, but Martin was happy to talk to me about it as he feels quite passionately that the country is headed in the wrong direction and has really grave concerns about his future.
The Hope has a micro-brewery in the cellar and makes the super tasty Fool Hardy Ales, which can be enjoyed in the pub or taken away in gift sets. Stockport is renowned for its real ales and the Hope is an important part of the pub scene.
I asked Martin what potential impact Brexit will have upon the Hope and on his future, and as for most people in the country, the future is uncertain “I don’t know until it happens, no-one does, at worst I’ll go bankrupt, at best I’ll keep my head above water. To be perfectly honest, I’m thinking about selling up, I rely a lot on imported products both for brewing and to sell, and the ones which aren’t from Europe travel through Europe to get here. As soon as the referendum happened prices went up 5% and they’re likely to rise further, both due to delays and tariffs. It’s really worrying, maybe in the long term it would work out but I haven’t got that long, if we go into a financial crisis then who’s going to come and drink in my pub? If I risk waiting then the value of the building could fall and that’s all I’ve got.”
I ask Martin if anything has been communicated to him from local or national government, he says “Nothing, nothing at all. Now I’m not big on politics, they’re all as bad as each other. Some of them try, but power is a dangerous thing. Andrew Gwynne is a nice guy, he gave me tour of the Houses of Parliament once and they even stocked our ales for a bit, but he just tows the Labour party line”
I ask Martin how his punters are feeling about Brexit, he thinks that opinions on it are changing. “A lot of my punters admit to not having understood the issues before they voted in the first referendum, and they’d now vote a different way. There was a lot of scaremongering before the vote, the vast majority of it focussing on immigration, people jumped on a bandwagon, but it’s not going to stop people from outside Europe coming in, in fact there’ll be more when the Europeans leave!”
Martin does however mention that he tries to deflect conversations when they get too heated on Brexit, he says “first rule of managing a pub, keep the talk off politics and football!” I’m not sure there’s much chance of either of those topics being avoided in a Greater Manchester pub in 2019, but that’s perhaps why the Hope’s such a lovely calm pub to drink in, and one of the reasons its survival is so important.
Helen Atkinson is the press officer for Stockport for Europe and Manchester for Europe
Twitter @Mcr4EU @Stockport4EU @hellsbellsEU
Facebook ManchesterforEurope StockportforEurope