General election: drinks retailers back Conservative victory

Two-thirds of drinks retailers believe a Conservative victory would offer the best outcome in next month’s general election. 

We polled hundreds of retailers across the country to gauge their opinions as the nation prepares to go to the polls on December 12. 

Sixty-seven per cent of UK drinks trade members said the Conservatives would be the best party for the future health of the industry. Nineteen per cent believe a Liberal Democrat victory would be the best result, while just 11% opted for Labour and 3% went for smaller parties. 

The vote of confidence in the Tories comes in spite of the party’s determination to see the UK leave the EU. More than four-fifths of UK drinks industry insiders oppose Brexit and wish to see the UK remain in the EU, but they still feel that the Conservatives would be a better overall choice for the trade.

The government has recently implemented a duty freeze on beer and spirits, and Conservative leader Boris Johnson has just pledged to review alcohol duty if his party prevails in the election.

The prime minister made the promise during a visit to Diageo’s Roseisle Distillery in Moray, where he declared his intention to help boost domestic BWS sales and exports. 

The Scotch Whisky Association welcomed the pledge. Chief executive Karen Betts said: “A simplified alcohol duty regime in the UK, to better reflect alcohol content, would be fairer for consumers, increase competitiveness and remain an important driver of tax revenue.”

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin added: “It is great news that Boris Johnson has committed to reviewing UK alcohol taxation.”

Almost a quarter of drinks retailers favour a Liberal Democrat victory due to the party’s anti-Brexit stance. 

Zak Avery, director of online beer store Beer Ritz, said: “It all comes down to Brexit. The Lib Dems are anti-Brexit and as Brexit will seriously compromise imports and exports, the Lib Dems are therefore likely to be the best for the industry.”

Labour gained minimal support from drinks retailers. “If Labour get in we are all done for,” said Max Wood at Satchells Wines in Norfolk. “The damage will make Brexit look like a tea party.”

However, Cornish retailer Saul Meskin urged the trade to support the Labour Party. “A vote for anyone else is a finger in the eye,” he said. “Or do you think a bunch of so-called elites have the best interest of anyone else in mind? Any business is better off under Labour and, more importantly, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. After all, that thing you do all day, all week long is called labour, no?”

There was a smattering of votes for smaller parties. Andrew Lundy at Vino in Edinburgh said the Green Party is his choice, while a few outliers went for
the Brexit Party, which has pledged to stand down in Conservative seats.

Yet two-thirds believe the Conservative Party has more to offer the drinks trade, and it is now the 1/20 favourite to secure the most votes at the general election, with Labour out at 10/1 and the Lib Dems priced at 50/1. 

A Yougov poll commissioned by Sky News this week suggested that the Conservative Party holds a 14-point lead over Labour in the battle to seize control of Westminster.

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