PM rejects offer to meet Hospitality Minister campaigners

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

PM rejects offer to meet Hospitality Minister petitioners SeatAtTheTable

Related tags: Government, Coronavirus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shrugged off an offer to meet petitioners campaigning for the creation of a Minister of Hospitality.

Appearing before MPs on the Commons Liaison Committee yesterday (13 January), Johnson was asked by Labour MP Catherine McKinnell if he would meet with those who are spearheading the petition, which has received more than 200,000 signatures. 

She said: "We have a petition in Parliament at the moment. The hospitality industry is a major employer in this country, not to mention the heart and soul of many communities, and it has suffered more than most from the Covid disruption. 

"Given we spent two days debating in the summer whether a scotch egg is a substantial meal or not, and dealing with the consequences of the ill-thought out 10pm curfew, would the Prime Minister agree to meet with petitioners who believe its time that the Government had a dedicated Minister for Hospitality - to fully understand the diverse nature of this sector, and get things right for this industry through this crisis and beyond."

Responding to McKinnell, Johnson said she was right to identify the 'particular troubles' of the hospitality sector, but showed no appetite to actually meet those campaigning for it to have greater representation in Parliament.

He said: "You're right to identify the particular troubles of the hospitality sector, they've been through a very, very difficult time. We're doing everything we can to support them. And the Chancellor, the Business Secretary and I meet regularly with that representatives of sector. We've given them all the grants, the recent increase in grants, the recent £3,000 grants specifically for the hospitality sector, on top of the CBILS and the Bounce Back loans, the furlough scheme and many, many other forms of support.

"But the best thing for the hospitality sector is really that we all work together to defeat the virus, in a way that I'm absolutely certain we can, with disciplined action and the vaccine rollout and get them back on their feet, and I'm sure that's the best thing for them."

McKinnell, who led the Westminster Hall debate to discuss the creation of the role​ earlier this week, tweeted afterwards: “Unfortunately the PM hasn’t agreed to meet with [petitioners] to discuss proposal for a dedicated hospitality minister.

"I will follow up with a letter and in my view, it is in his Government’s interest so it can get things right for this vital sector.”

The debate saw MPs from both sides of the aisle find common ground over the financial hardships currently facing the sector as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.

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