What is a Yorkshire publican to do when politics doesn’t stop at the water’s edge? He refuses to serve the offending politicians a pint. Earlier this month, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak and two of his Conservative colleagues in parliament were among those who voted against extending a programme that would have provided school meals to children from low-income households even during school holidays. The proprietors of the Mill pub and Il Mulino restaurant, which is attached to it, took exception to their vote in the House. The pub is located in Sunak’s constituency — Richmond (Yorks).
“The government voted against extending free school meals. This is disgusting… What’s worse Matt Vickers MP, Simon Clarke MP & Jacob Young MP, Rishi Sunak all voted against the scheme. DISGUSTING! All 4 are now barred from The Mill & Il Mulino for life. I don’t want their business,” wrote Alex Cook, owner of the establishment, in a Facebook post. The good people at Mill’s pub are also donating meals to local food banks, trying to make up in some small measure for the way their MPs have voted.
Cook’s outburst and the ban go somewhat against the stereotypical image of the pub and those who run it. The friendly barman is, after all, seen in popular culture as the man who lends an ear to all comers and the pub itself is the space for political debate. Yet, the frustration at the Mill pub is understandable. And their logic is pretty tight, too. A pub and restaurant feeds and waters people. If the government, in a pandemic that has devastated families, refuses to do the same for children, the smallest consequence its members can face is to be refused service. There is, of course, much that is debatable about this notion. It should be discussed over a drink.
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