But freedom from the EU’s regulations on taxes might allow the government to lower the price of beer, according to an MP.
Jesse Norman, Herefordshire MP and Paymaster General and Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said Brexit could result in cheaper booze for Brits.
Speaking yesterday in a debate on beer duty rates in the Commons, Mr Norman said a future government might choose to support Britain’s beleaguered pubs by lowering the duty paid on beer sold over the bar
Such a move would make boozers more competitive with off-licenses and supermarkets.
“if we have done so much, why have 11,000 pubs closed in the last decade and why does one pub still close every 12 hours?”
Replying to a point made by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, he said: “My honorable Friend the Member for Clacton is absolutely right to emphasise the social importance of pubs, which are central places in the community.
“They are mixing places and meeting places for people from every walk of life.
“My honorable Friend the Member for Burton also made the point that pubs are a place of supervised, safe drinking, where publicans—male or female—know their customers, pulling pints and pulling people together in a social environment.
“That of course raises the stakes from a Government standpoint.“
Clacton MP Giles Watling, who called the debate, agreed, saying that different rates of beer duty between drinks sold in pubs and booze sold in supermarkets would help pubowners.
He said: “Previous across-the-board cuts in beer duty have also helped supermarkets to continue to undermine on-trade sales while failing to slow the rate of pub closures.
“So despite the Government’s very valiant efforts, and the important contributions our pubs make to the economy and to community life, they remain at risk.“
Mr Norman also raised the idea of different levels of duty depending on the strength of the beer being sold – saying that one way to encourage responsible drinking was to promote the sale of weaker beer.
It’s important to note that the MPs repeatedly used the words ‘could’ and ‘should’ during this debate, and prices have a habit of going up rather more than they go down.