Pret A Manger founder Julian Metcalfe has accused Boris Johnson of spouting “Churchillian nonsense” following new restrictions on the hospitality sector that come into force today.
The Prime Minister announced a tightening of rules this week in order to curb a rise in infections, ordering a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and a call for office staff to work from home if possible.
Mr Metcalfe, who is also boss of Itsu, said the measures would have a “devastating” impact on people’s lives and livelihoods following Mr Johnson’s suggestions that they could go on for six months.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme that the Prime Minister needed to get aligned with his team and fully comprehend the repercussions of such actions.
“What we need is the government, particularly our Prime Minister, this man sitting down with his Union Jack talking utter nonsense, that’s where we need leadership.
“To turn to an entire nation and say ‘stay at home for six months’ and to spout off some Churchillian nonsense about we’ll make it through, it’s just terribly unhelpful to this country. Speak to people in the local councils – devoid of income.”
Questioned on the likelihood of a company like Itsu still surviving in a year’s time, Mr Metcalfe said: “It may or it may not, but I honestly don’t think that it important right now.”
Mr Metcalfe and CEOs from a number of leading restaurant chains have this week written to the chancellor urging additional support for the sector.
In order to mitigate the impact of government measures, the signatories – which include the UK bosses of KFC and Pizza Hut – have put forward policy proposals including extending the furlough scheme for the hospitality sector and extending the government’s time-limited reductions in both VAT reductions and business rates.
Rishi Sunak is expected to outline plans for a new system to replace the furlough scheme later today.