DELIGHTED drinkers were told last night they can booze in Tier 2 pubs — if they buy a Scotch egg.
Bars must offer a “substantial meal” to reopen under new Covid curbs in England from tomorrow.
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Environment Secretary George Eustice, whose family farm makes the picnic favourite, said: “I think a Scotch egg probably would count.”
It came as under-fire Boris Johnson offered pubs that cannot reopen in England’s Tier 2 or Tier 3 a one-off Christmas gift of around £1,000.
Bosses in the crippled industry labelled the PM “stingier than Scrooge”.
A hundred Tory MPs threatened to vote down the new tier rules tonight — with Labour piling the pressure on the PM by abstaining.
The British Meat Processors Association backed Mr Eustice, saying: “The minister is quite right, a Scotch egg makes a cracking meal alongside a pint of beer”.
Boss Nick Allen added: “It’s a good bit of news for once and most welcome for pork producers across the land.”
SNACK OR MEAL
Last night, the PM’s spokesman refused to draw a line between a snack and a meal.
Small snacks such as a packet of crisps or pork scratchings are definitely out.
But pressed on whether the rules permit pints being served alongside sausage rolls, pork pies or a sandwich, he said: “I’m obviously not going to get into the detail of every possible meal.”
Previously, ministers stated a Cornish pasty might count if served with chips or salad.
Pub landlords say they still face financial ruin from the return to the tiered system tomorrow that will see 30,000 boozers unable to reopen.
Paul Bristow, Tory MP for Peterborough, said: “What pubs need is the substantial meal rule reversed. They don’t want handouts, they want the ability to trade.
“Covid does not go away just because you have a bowl of chips in front of you.”
Mr Johnson is battling the biggest Tory rebellion of his premiership when MPs vote on the new measures tonight with at least 75 demanding changes to the system.
He offered the £1,000 gift in a bid to quell the fury.
Labour will lay bare Tory divisions by abstaining in tonight’s crunch votes on the new regional system.
The Government is still expected to win but Labour’s refusal to vote in favour is a further humiliation for the PM as it will expose the huge scale of the Tory rebellion.
Explaining why he is ordering his MPs to abstain, leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We will always act in the national interest, so we will not vote against these restrictions in Parliament tomorrow.
“However, I remain deeply concerned that Boris Johnson’s government has failed to use this latest lockdown to put a credible health and economic plan in place.
“We still don’t have a functioning testing system, public health messaging is confused, and businesses across the country are crying out for more effective economic support to get them through the winter months.
“It is short-term government incompetence that is causing long-term damage to the British economy.”
Last night, furious landlords who had begged No10 to stump up between £3,000 and £12,000 a month extra for pubs hammered by the new lockdown branded the one-off £1,000 an “insult”.
James Davis, who runs the Cock Inn at Brent Eleigh, Suffolk, said the offer was “too little too late” for a sector that had already seen its festive trade smashed.
Mr Davis, who will remain closed in Tier 2, said: “Every pub needs help. They are the fabric of Britain but we’re treating them like a cheap suit.”
British Beer and Pub Association chief Emma McClarkin said: “A so-called Christmas bonus is simply nowhere near enough to bridge the gap on their ongoing costs let alone lost revenue.”
In a separate bid to win over MPs, ministers also published a long awaited “impact assessment” on what effect the new lockdown measures will have.
It acknowledged the “knock-on implications” of restrictions on other health services, mental health and physical wellbeing as well as the economic impact, but failed to win over many furious Tory MPs.
Unemployment faces being higher than the 2.6 million predicted last week and the economic hit will be greater.
But despite the damage caused by the tiers, it says allowing the disease to run unchecked will be “much worse” for public health.
However, it claimed it was impossible to predict the long-term effect — despite reports Boris had vetoed putting London into Tier 3 after being shown evidence it would hit half a million jobs.
Senior Tories claimed the document “collapsed under the glare of scrutiny”.
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