Boris Johnson set to reject calls for new Cabinet position after industry campaign

The Prime Minister looks set to reject calls for a dedicated hospitality minister after a vocal campaign from leading industry figures.

Boris Johnson responded to the #SeatAtTheTable petition to say that while he acknowledges the “troubles” of the sector, his Government is already doing “everything we can to support it”.

The i politics newsletter cut through the noise

He said in a Commons Liason Committee meeting late on Wednesday: “You’re right to identify the troubles of the hospitality sector, and it has been through a very difficult time.

“We are doing everything we can to support it, and the Chancellor, Business Secretary and I meet regularly with representatives of that sector. 

‘We have given support’

“We have given all the grants, the recent increase in grants that you know of, on top of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and bounce back loans, the furlough scheme and many, many other forms of support.

“But the best thing for the hospitality sector is we all work together to defeat the virus, in the way I’m absolutely certain we can, with disciplined action and the vaccine roll-out, and get it back on its feet, and I am sure that is the best thing for it.” 

Angela Harnett, who owns the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Murano, said: ‘We feel sidelined. We would like to see a department created to represent hospitality’ (Photo: #SeatAtTheTable)

Mr Johnson was responding to comments made by MPs in support of creating the role at a committee meeting in Westminster on Monday.

The debate was led by the Labour MP Catherine McKinnell, who supported the campaign and said currently hospitality matters are caught between two “crowded” Government departments –  the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

‘Hospitality isn’t given a platform’

But the Newcastle North MP tweeted on Wednesday: “Unfortunately the PM hasn’t agreed to meet with @seatat_thetable @chefpublishing to discuss a 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 #seatatthetable.” 

The petition was started by the editor of Chef & Restaurant magazine Claire Bosi, and backed by Michelin-starred chefs such as Angela Hartnett and Tom Kerridge. 

“Covid-19 has shown there’s a massive gap here [in Parliament] and it doesn’t make sense that hospitality isn’t given a platform,” Hartnett told i. 

Kerridge added: “[We would like] someone there there who understands it, or is at least a compassionate voice, with people behind him or her that do.”

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