A GROUP of 68 Tory MPs have broken cover to demand Rishi Sunak slash beer duty at next week’s Budget.
They say pubs are already on their knees and the Chancellor should throw them a lifeline to save the local boozer.
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Meanwhile, telly star Kate Thornton has blasted the ‘sexist’ higher booze duty on wine and urged the Chancellor to act.
The Sun understands that the Treasury boss is currently weighing up whether to cut or freeze the cocktail of alcohol duties when he unveils his economic blueprint.
Tory MP Richard Holden begged the Chancellor to give Brits something to toast after a tough year in lockdown.
He said: “Our pubs are at the heart of our communities and lockdown has hit them harder than any other sector.
“Whilst the government support has been welcome, it has not made up for the massive impact of being closed for so long on these vital local institutions.
BUILD BACK BETTER
“The best way for them to build back better after this crisis is to get people back into pubs and the best encouragement for publicans and the public is to see real action on beer duty.”
The Beer and Pub Association has warned that boozers will miss out on billions in lost takings and many could shut thanks to the PM’s ultra cautious unlocking plan.
Pubs are only allowed to reopen outside from April 12, and all punters will have to be seated.
They can reopen indoors from May 17 but must stick to the rule of six, and have to wait until June 21 before all lockdown rules are scrapped.
Britain’s boozers have been the hardest hit by lockdown, but are walloped by some of the highest beer duty taxes in Europe, campaigners say.
The UK pays £3.6 billion in Beer Duty each year – more than Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands and Ireland put together.
British beer drinkers pay 11 times more duty on beer than those in Germany as well as Spain.
Currently, £1 in every £3 spent in a pub goes to the taxman.
Mr Sunak froze duty on all alcoholic drinks last year – including beer, wine and spirits.
And he is under growing pressure to treat wine the same as beer again in this year’s Budget.
Furious campaigners have said it is sexist that wine – traditionally quaffed by women more than men – is slapped with higher taxes than beer.
Celeb Kate Thornton, who used to front X Factor and now hosts the White Wine Question Time podcast, fumed: “Surely wine should be treated the same way as beer and spirits when it comes to tax?
“I’m baffled as to why it is singled out as an outlier that is open to higher taxes.
“And when you consider that women are more likely to drink wine than men and increase in duty will hit women the hardest.”
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