Taxpayers Fork Out £17 Million to Subsidise MPs’ Food and Drink

As inflation begins to bite and food prices soar, MPs are resting easy knowing they’re being spared the horrors of forking out nearly £7 per pint, all courtesy of taxpayer generosity. This round’s on us.

New figures released following a Freedom of Information request from OpenDemocracy reveal all 17 of Parliament’s bars and restaurants have been making huge losses for the past few years, with taxpayer cash being used to keep them afloat. More than £6.6 million was spent in 2020 alone, with the tab coming to a staggering £17 million over the last three years. In fact, the average cost of dinner in the Members’ Dining Room actually fell by more than £1 between 2018 and 2021…

Even with MPs gratefully accepting a £2,212 pay rise this year, menu prices still significantly undercut local competitors by a huge margin. Here’s what Members can expect to pay inside Parliament compared to the Red Lion next door:

The basic salary of a backbencher is now £84,144. Virtually nowhere in London – certainly not in Westminster – will offer prices even close to what’s available in the Commons. Trebles all round – on the taxpayer…
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Red Lion to Temporarily Close for Derby Gate Renovations

Guido understands the Red Lion is set to close later this week to allow for renovations to Derby Gate, which is expected to continue until next Monday or Tuesday. Westminster’s favourite watering hole is currently waiting to hear back from contractors within the next 24 hours to get a firm closure date, although it’s provisionally set for Thursday. Expect to see a massive crane parked on Whitehall by the weekend…

UPDATE: Due to bad weather, the crane’s arrival has been delayed until further notice. The Red Lion is open for business. 

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Guido’s Apology to the Red Lion

Guido must apologise to the Red Lion: following yesterday’s story revealing SW1’s favourite pub is considering hosting karaoke nights soon, staff expressed their irritation at having to repeatedly field questions about the news from budding vocalists as they ordered drinks. Guido was reminded the plans are still very much in the early stages, so don’t expect Whitehall to turn into Glastonbury overnight. In other news, they’re also thinking of introducing a comedy club…

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Red Lion Considering Longer Opening Hours and Karaoke Nights

Last night, Red Lion staff told Guido of early plans to capitalise on the much-reported love of partying in Whitehall: they are strongly considering extending their opening hours to midnight on certain days of the week, and opening up their downstairs function area – the ‘Cabinet Room’ – more permanently. Quite a turnaround from the fears of closure due to the restoration and renewal project just a couple of years ago…

Although they lack the staff to extend opening hours every night, the provisional plan is to keep the drinks flowing on Thursdays at the very least – although if thirsty politicos have strong feelings about other days of the week, this may change. The hope is to keep punters drinking without the itch to trot off to Players later in the evening.

The most popular idea at the moment for the Cabinet Room is a regular karaoke night, which would no doubt go down well with the Tory faithful. Installing a jukebox is also a possibility. Prime opportunity to take the last few clientele away from Sports & Social (which is currently closed)…

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The Westminster Social Guide: What’s Opening When?

Given it’s all anyone’s interested in, Guido brings you the seminal guide to what pubs and popular restaurants are re-opening when, from Westminster and Pimlico, to Victoria and Charing Cross. Firstly Guido is sad to report the demise of two well-known SW1 restaurants: Quirinale on Great Peter Street, and Roux at Parliament Square. They will be missed.

On to the happier news, plenty of outlets are re-opening on Monday. Bookings-only places are denoted with a 📅:

Read More

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Whitehall’s Red Lion to Re-Open in May

SW1 politicos will have been disappointed to learn Strangers won’t be re-opening before June 21st, in line with the Speaker’s dovish roadmap. There is cause for celebration, however; the Red Lion has confirmed it will re-open its doors on May 17, in line with the government’s unlocking roadmap. Last year the Old Star was the first to re-open and the last to close. Which watering hole will be the first to grasp the opportunity of re-opening first this time around?

UPDATE: Guido learns SpAd favourite the Clarence has also committed to re-opening on May 17th. Finally, Rosenfield can take his team for that cheeky pint he’s been promising…

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