Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Brexit
17 September 2018updated 09 Sep 2021 5:50pm

Wetherspoons scrapping Jägerbombs sums up everything that’s wrong about Brexit

First they came for our champagne, and I said nothing. Then they came for our Jäger. 

By Nick Paler

One of the more eye-catching stories involving Brexit last week was the news that Brexiteer and pub behemoth Tim Martin has banned Jägermeister from Wetherspoons.

Following hot on the heels of an announcement to pull champagne and prosecco from shelves across his 900 locations, he has now gone after one of the most popular shots in Britain.

Made in Germany, anyone who has ever tried it will remember Jäger for two reasons. Firstly, it tastes terrible. I mean truly vile. When knocked back with a splash of Redbull, or some other filthy energy drink the combination is intoxicating, yes, but mainly just horrific.

However, as well as tasting like something you should be putting in your car’s engine rather than your body, it is, somehow, addictive.

Akin to a bushtucker trial on I’m a Celebrity, getting in a round of Jägers has never, ever been about the taste (excluding those few oddball mates who tell you “yeah actually I quite like the flavour”).

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Instead it’s a bonding exercise. A way to say “we’re all in this together now, so let’s see where we end up”. Indeed, the appeal of sinking a few bombs on a night out has seen Jäger soar in popularity in recent years, becoming the second-best selling speciality drinks brand globally in 2017, behind only Martini.

Marketing gimmick aside (nothing beats free publicity) the decision to scrap Jägermeister from Wetherspoons pubs shouldn’t – on the face of it – mean much in the long term.

For a start, the pub already has an English brand – the aptly named Strika – ready to replace Germany’s finest.

Content from our partners
A healthy conversation, a healthy career
A sustainable solution for inhalers
Why modelling matters: its role in future healthcare challenges

There’s also plenty of other spirits out there that can be combined with Red Bull or the like.

But we should care. We should care because, like so much surrounding Brexit, our choices and range of experiences are now firmly under threat.

While not everyone will want to make a stand over something as fickle as an herbal liqueur originally designed to be sipped as an after-dinner digestif rather than necked in a nightclub, this is an example of the real danger of what Brexit could mean.

It is eroding our way of life, limiting our options in future, and making us more reliant on companies at home (increasing the chance of unhealthy monopolies forming), rather than allowing competition to flourish and benefit the majority.

Both sides of the Brexit divide had reasons for voting, and this is not to take a swipe at people for their choice. We just need to be aware that by narrowing our horizons – turning our back on nearly half a century of integration and cooperation – we may undo the very fabric underpinning how we live our lives.

If there was a big prize at the end of it – say, for example, an extra £350m a week for the NHS – it might, MIGHT, just be worth it. But as we all now know, Brexit is more likely to see our cash-strapped health service take a funding cut rather than receive extra, much needed, capital.

The truth – and it’s as hard to swallow as, ironically, a Jäger, is that wherever you look, the most experienced people in every field are warning of the dangers of Brexit. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said just last week that in a worst-case no-deal scenario, house prices could fall by a third, and he is by no means the only expert painting such a bleak picture.

Yet the government and its backers continue to plough ahead, ignoring every shred of evidence and every new report in order to enforce the will of the people. Whatever that even is.

It’s enough to make you want a drink. It’s just a shame we might not have many choices about what to imbibe this time next year.

Nick Paler is the head of content at communications consultancy MRM.