Boris Johnson has turned down a request to meet with petitioners to discuss the potential of creating a Minister of Hospitality role in parliament.
Yesterday during the PM’s questions, Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North – fast-becoming a champion of the hospitality sector – called on Johnson specifically to meet with petitioners calling for a Hospitality Minister, to understand the real challenges they face and the desperate need for a proper voice in government.
Speaking directly to the Prime Minister via Zoom, she said: “We have a petition in parliament at the moment, and hospitality is a major employer in this country, not to mention the heart and soul of many communities and they have suffered more than most during this pandemic.
“Given we spent two days in the summer debating whether a scotch egg is a substantial meal or not and dealing with the consequences of the 10pm curfew, would the prime minister meet with petitioners who believe it’s time we had a dedicated minister for hospitality to fully understand the diverse nature of this industry and get things right for this industry through this crisis and beyond?”
Johnson replied: “She’s right to identify the troubles of the hospitality sector, they have been through a difficult time, but we are doing all we can to support them. Myself, the business secretary and the chancellor regularly meet with people from that sector, and the recent increase in grants was specifically for them, on top of the furlough, CBILS and more.
“Now the best thing for the sector is that we work together to beat the virus with disciplined action. I’m sure that’s the best thing for them.”
Catherine McKinnell MP asks Boris Johnson if he would meet with petitioners who want a dedicated minister for hospitality
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) January 13, 2021
Following the meeting, McKinnell tweeted: “Unfortunately the PM hasn’t agreed to meet with @seatat_thetable @chefpublishing to discuss proposal for a dedicated Hospitality Minister. I will follow up with a letter & in my view, it is in his Govt’s interest so they can get things right for this vital sector #seatatthetable.”
The petition for a Minister of Hospitality was started in October and spurred on in November when Robin Hutson launched his seatatthetable campaign. When the petition went to debate in parliament on Monday, it had reached more than 200,000 signatures.