Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has called for more EU migration to tackle the shortage of hospitality workers in the UK.

The pro-Brexit pub chain owner has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce a "reasonably liberal immigration system" that would be controlled by Britain to solve the bar staff shortage.

Amid Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic the hospitality industry has seen a mass exodus of workers leaving chains such as JD Wetherspoon with a shortage of staff.

Now, Tim Martin has called on Boris Johnson to introduce a visa system which would allow business owners to hire staff from abroad suggesting that countries closer to the UK should be prioritised.

The outspoken multimillionaire told The Telegraph: "The UK has a low birth rate.

"A reasonably liberal immigration system controlled by those we have elected, as distinct from the EU system, would be a plus for the economy and the country.

“America, Australia and Singapore have benefitted for many decades from this approach.

"Immigration combined with democracy works."

Mr Martin’s comments have caused a storm on social media after his vocal support of Brexit.

One user wrote: “Man who wanted to restrict freedom of movement now wants to bring back freedom of movement.”

“It’s hard to find the words for this,” added another.

While Labour councillor Freddie Bailey, of Preston City Council, said: "Pro-Brexit Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has called for more EU migration to tackle the worker shortage.

"Do I really need to say anything?"

Tim Martin face backlash in March last year when he told staff  to “go work at Tesco” instead as the pubs firm warned them they could face delays over pay.

The message came as the company shut all pubs across the UK as Boris Johnson ordered the first national lockdown.

In a video message to staff, Mr Martin suggested they could find employment at supermarkets while the chain’s pubs remain shut.

He said the group will pay employees for all work done until the pubs last opened, but will not make any further payments to staff until the Government fulfils its promise to cover 80% of the wages of workers affected by the Covid-19 shutdown.

The founder said: “I’ve very sorry about the situation that’s occurred with our pubs.

“I know that almost all our trade now has gone to supermarkets.

“Not only our trade, but the trade from cafes, leisure centres and restaurants.

“So we have had lots of calls from supermarkets – Tesco alone want 20,000 people to join them.

“That’s half the number of people who work in our pubs.

“If I’m honest, I say you can get the furlough payments and stay at home.

“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 you we will give you first preference if you want to come back.”