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Champagne delivered for Tory party conference but Prosecco served to guests

Champagne was delivered for the annual Conservative Party conference this week, yet Prosecco has been served in “most areas”, says attendee.

Boxes of fizz, including Champagne Pommery, were photographed being delivered to the Midland Hotel in Manchester, the host-city for the annual Tory party conference, in preparation for the event.

Security staff were spotted checking over the boxes of Champagne ahead of the summit, which lasts from Sunday 1 October to Wednesday 4 October.

However, according to a report in London’s Evening Standard newspaper, inside the conference Champagne has mysteriously been replaced by Prosecco “in most places”.

“There was even none at the chairman’s suite bash,” said a source present at the event.

So far, reviews of the conference have described the atmosphere as being like “a wake” or “ghost town”, with a “funeral” or “fin d’une époque” feel.

In 2009, Champagne was banned from the annual Conservative party conference to avoid displays of wealth while the UK grappled with a cost-of-living crisis. But by 2011 the French sparkling wine was being served again.

Keeping Champagne less visible at this year’s party conference may relate to accusations made last month by Labour party leader Keir Starmer, who accused Sunak of “putting Champagne drinkers ahead of school safety” by slashing duty on fizz but lowering the budget for rebuilding classrooms.

“He took a choice to cut the rate in relation to Champagne and not to sign off the necessary funding for schools,” Starmer told BBC News.

In August, brewers raged after Rishi Sunak showed up at The Great British Beer Festival, condemning his appearance as an ill-timed PR stunt given his claims that Brexit had secured cheaper beer for Brits.

Steve Dunkley, head brewer at Manchester-based Beer Nouveau, told db that “if Sunak was serious about talking to brewers, publicans and drinkers, then he should have done that before such a massive overhaul of the system. That he’s pretending to do so now shows that he didn’t do so beforehand, that there are serious flaws with the new system and that he has no intention of listening anyway”.

When Sunak became Britain’s Prime Minister in October 2022 the drinks industry responded with trepidation.

“We hope that the new PM, Rishi Sunak, and his Cabinet – including his Chancellor – focus on delivering policies which support growth, support British businesses of all sizes and which avoid unnecessary, costly red tape and punishing taxes,” Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirits Trade Association, told db.

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