Landlord votes to bar MP Mike Hancock from pub

Mike Hancock has been barred from The Leopold Tavern by landlord Stuart Ainsworth, inset
Mike Hancock has been barred from The Leopold Tavern by landlord Stuart Ainsworth, inset

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A PORTSMOUTH MP was temporarily barred from a pub in a row over beer tax.

Mike Hancock was told he wasn’t welcome at The Leopold Tavern, in Southsea, after landlord Stuart Ainsworth thought an email from him said he supported the beer duty escalator.

The escalator, which was introduced by the Labour government, puts up the price of beer above the rate of inflation each year.

But there was a mix-up because the MP actually said while he didn’t agree with the escalator being scrapped, he was definitely against any raises this year.

The confusion led to Mr Ainsworth sending a tweet to his followers on Twitter saying he had ‘barred’ Mr Hancock.

The message, which was posted on Monday, was retweeted 102 times and Mr Ainsworth has now deleted his account after realising ‘things got out of hand’.

Mr Hancock has since sent him an email clarifying his stance.

Mr Ainsworth, 42, said: ‘Things got lost in translation.

‘I’m a fair bloke and I was off the cuff with my remark.

‘Mike is more than welcome to come to my pub and have a chat with me about things.

‘Truth be told things got out of hand.’

Barry Kewell, chairman of the pub watch representing venues in and around Albert Road, Southsea, had originally urged members to back Mr Ainsworth and ban the MP.

‘We could only go on what Stuart told us and we backed him because he is a member.

‘I will now talk to him and we will change our stance.’

Mr Hancock said: ‘I explained my situation and said I wasn’t in favour of the escalator being abolished.

‘It’s not a realistic option.

‘Where else would the government find the money made from it?

‘I haven’t been to The Leopold Tavern for at least 35 years so I didn’t understand why I was being barred from a pub I don’t go to anyway.’

Mr Hancock has written a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne which asks him to consider freezing the escalator this year because beer prices have gone up by 40 per cent in four years.

‘This increased tax will hit individuals and pubs hardest,’ he said.