Yet another government U-Turn as parliament drinking hours spark public backlash

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UK businesses have criticised Boris Johnson’s new strict curfew for England’s pubs and bars during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. They’ve raised concerns that it may do more harm than good by forcing crowds into the streets at the same time.

But the law caused even more protests when it emerged that MPs, lords and parliamentary staff would be able to continue drinking past the deadline in the Palace of Westminster. This was because its establishments are classed as workplace canteens.

As a result, parliament has now said it won’t serve alcohol after the 10pm curfew.

Yet another U-turn

Johnson announced new regulations last week. They include exemptions that:

workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food.

Read on...

But after the decision to keep the parliament bars open came in for cross-party criticism, parliament announced a U-turn with immediate effect. A spokesperson said:

Alcohol will not be sold after 10pm anywhere on the parliamentary estate.

Catering facilities will continue to serve food after the deadline when the House is sitting.

One rule for the public…

Health minister Helen Whately had said she had been unaware that the curfew did not apply to parliament and seemed unimpressed. She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

We in parliament shouldn’t be sitting round late at night drinking. We have got a job to do when we are there.

The SNP’s Ronnie Cowan tweeted:

One rule for the public and another for Westminster (sounds familiar).

…but that rule isn’t great either

The curfew, which came into force on Thursday, has proved controversial, with businesses warning their profitability will be jeopardised, while police struggle to disperse large crowds forming after the deadline on Saturday night.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has also warned it may be doing “more harm than good”, with people piling on to public transport and queuing outside shops to buy more alcohol. Meanwhile, Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser Sacha Lord tweeted: 

Meanwhile the government’s reasons for a 10pm cut off remain obscure, while the ‘rule of six’, which applies differently in different countries in the UK, continue to cause widespread confusion.

Story and image via PA News Agency.

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  • Show Comments
    1. It would be good if the Canary showed as much if not more concern for the suspension of our democracy and the removal of our most fundamental liberties as it does for targeting politicians who break the rules – or any concern at all. We are, after all, experiencing a period of tyranny, and it should concern you as it does just about everyone else. Peaceful protest is now met with an unprovoked blow from a baton, and police attacking middle aged women. I would have thought you might have had something to say about that – but obviously MPs being able to drink after hours – which was disgraceful – is so much more important.

      1. To be fair as a long term reader and supporter of “the canary” I think they do all the stuff you mention and I have read many pieces about lots of subjects. I can honestly say that I probably like about 99% of the writing but don’t agree with everything.

    2. We must not mock these many Johnson U-Turns, this is a Luxury that we need to celebrate and exploit to it’s fullest, and something well worth remembering is that a Loopholes Starmer Government will dig the law for loopholes for years before doing so much as a Left Turn!
      As Equally Shit and ELITE owned as they are, Starmer and Johnson has one Major Difference apart from the U-Turns, Johnson is Inadvertently making The PEOPLE Unite and Rise like no other before him! Starmer and his infamous love for the Figure 10 will have us all banged up for 10 years or racking up £10K Fines!
      Keep that in mind at the Next GE where we will have an opportunity to finally vote out EVERY New-Labour TORY Party MP, even if we are left with ’10’ UK Labour Party MPs we will have a much harder clout than the 170+ New-Labour TORY Party, “we will support the Government”, MPs!

    3. Journalists and politicians share a tendency to say “Oh will you look at him/her, they’re being very naughty.” Public vilification seems to be the only way to avoid addressing ideas. Is that what people mean by ‘the cancel culture’? The worrying thing is that level of communication is what happens in primary school play grounds…

    4. Remember what the Eton Spiv’s tutor said in 1982: “Boris sometimes seems affronted when criticised for what amounts to a gross failure of responsibility (and surprised at the same time that he was not appointed Captain of the School for next half): I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else.”
      This could have been written last week, & also remember the types he’s surrounded himself with….his Court Jester are his clones, eg., the muppet Barnard Castle Cummings for one. They rule we obey…………….they think & hope…..
      All we have to do it do our own things because there are more of us than them, & they’re sunk.

    5. For everyone else, not only may alcohol not be SOLD after 10 pm, they actually have to be out on the street by 10pm. MPs, however, in their works canteen, can buy as much alcohol before 10pm as they like, and because it’s a works canteen, it doesn’t have to chuck them our by 10. Trebles all round!

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