As a teetotaller who even dislikes the taste of alcohol-free beer, Rishi Sunak is not commonly seen in pubs. His visit to a beer festival might thus have provided the prime minister with the important lesson that a landlord always has the last say.
In another all-round-awkward photoshoot for Sunak, he mistakenly referred to himself as the chancellor, his last job, before he was loudly heckled while pulling a pint of Black Dub stout at the Great British beer festival in west London.
As he poured the beer, part of a visit to promote changes to alcohol duty, Sunak was greeted by a shout of: “Prime minister, oh the irony that you’re raising alcohol duty on the day that you’re pulling a pint.”
The objection came from Rudi Keyser, 46, who runs a pub in Wimbledon, south-west London, and wanted to get across the message that while Sunak was promoting a freeze on beer-based duty, this was not the case for some other drinks.
“The amount of breweries that have shut down in the last year has been phenomenal,” Keyser said. “Plus on 1 August – today – they are raising alcohol duty across the board significantly.
“I run a pub as part of a big national chain and we’ve been bulk buying in the last two weeks to avoid the alcohol duty increase. And he has the audacity to come and pull a pint for PR.”
After pulling the pint of stout made by the Wensleydale brewery based in his Yorkshire constituency, Sunak was asked by GB News to name his favourite pub, beginning the answer with: “Well, I’m a teetotal chancellor …”
The photo opportunity, as part of which the prime minister posed with a beer mat saying “Beer is the answer”, enabled Sunak to argue that Brexit had ensured the tax paid for beer in pubs was lower than it would otherwise be.
Given the rise in other duties, Keyser said, this was merely “smoke and mirrors”, adding: “It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. So across the board, it’s all going up.”