Tim Martin's knighthood is proving as divisive as a night out at Wetherspoons

Tim Martin's knighthood is proving as divisive as a night out at Wetherspoons

Related video: Tim Martin sends video message to staff encouraging them to work for …

Tim Martin

Another year, another new year honours list, and some of the high-profile names this time around have caused quite the stir – including former health secretary Sajid Javid, Great British Bake Off judge Paul Holywood and founder of the Wetherspoons pub chain Tim Martin.

Martin, who is also a staunch Brexiteer, has been given a knighthood for “services to hospitality and to culture”, joining Javid who gets a knighthood for “political and public service”.

Sir Tim, as he's now known, said of his gong: “It had never been expected, so it came out the blue. I always think that, in the pub world, it is a team effort – even if you’ve just got one pub there are many people involved.

“I think it’s the Wetherspoon colleagues and customers who are getting the award really, that’s the way I look at it. I’m just the lucky recipient.”

Martin, of course, famously embodied the spirit of “teamwork” during the coronavirus lockdown, when he told his staff to consider working for Tesco amid uncertainty over their jobs, and was condemned online as a result.

In a video released in March 2020, he said: “If I’m honest, I could say you can get the furlough payments and stay at home, [but] if you’re offered a job at a supermarket, many of you will want to do that. If you think it’s a good idea, do it.

“I can completely understand it. If you’ve worked for us before I promise we will give you first preference if you want to come back.”

According to The Daily Mail, business secretary Kemi Badenoch pushed for Martin to be given a knighthood because it would be “wrong for successful entrepreneurs to be overlooked by the establishment” because they supported Brexit.

Sir Tim continued: “I’d like to think that [the knighthood] is not for my rarely disclosed political views – I hope it is for what it says on the tin.”

And so, the decision has divided opinion on social media. Some handed out praise in light of his business's success:

Others, though, were quick to condemn the honour, with many questioning why rugby stars and campaigners Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield – who received CBEs – were snubbed:

The new year honours list is separate from the list produced by shortest-serving prime minister Liz Truss, which was also released on Friday night and saw Vote Leave’s former chief executive Matthew Elliott and former chair Jon Moynihan handed peerages.

Critics have pointed out Ms Truss’s list effectively proposes a new peer for every day and a half she was in office.

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