Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

How Jascot's Alastair Pyatt "persuaded" the Chancellor to freeze wine duty

Published:  23 March, 2015

So here's us all thinking it was the gallant combined efforts of a cross industry high profile campaign that convinced the Chancellor, George Osborne, to freeze the duty on wine in last week's Budget. Well think again.

Step forward Alastair Pyatt, head buyer at Jascots Wine Merchants, who is the quiet hero of the wine trade.

Yes, thanks to a chance meeting between Pyatt and Osborne on of all places the London Tube last summer he was able to personally lobby the Chancellor for a freeze on wine duty.

Alistair Pyatt's chance meeting with the Chancellor George OsborneAlistair Pyatt's chance meeting with the Chancellor George Osborne

Here's Pyatt's version of events: "I was on the Central line on my way into the City from the Jascots office in north-west London. A chap across from me suddenly asked the other passengers if he was seeing things or whether it was George Osbourne in the next carriage. The consensus was that it was indeed him.

"Straightaway I thought that it's not often you get the chance to speak to a senior minister, especially the Chancellor, and so at the next stop I switched carriages.

"As luck would have it the guy sitting next to Mr Osborne got off the train at the same time, so I grabbed the seat next to him.

"I said 'hello' and asked him what he was doing on the tube. He was, if memory serves me right, on his way back from a summit meeting somewhere in Europe."

So Pyatt thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a bit of political lobbying on behalf of the trade. The conversation went something like this:

Pyatt: "I'd just like to say thanks for scrapping the duty escalator in this year's Budget."

Osborne: "Oh you liked that, did you?"

Pyatt: "Yes, I'm the buyer for Jascots Wine Merchants in north-west London (specialist wine supplier to restaurants, hotels and caterers). So I have a particular interest."

Osborne: "Oh I see..."

Pyatt: "And in fact I think I speak for everyone in the trade when I say that we'd very much appreciate a freeze or a decrease next time around, it would be a big help for the industry."

Osborne: (chuckling) "I'll see what I can do."

Even that was not enough personal lobbying for Pyatt who gave the Chancellor two business cards. One for himself and one for the Prime Minister.

"He got off at Oxford Circus or somewhere similarly central and that was that," recalls Pyatt.

So there you have it. The hero of the wine trade. Alastair Pyatt.

Pity he did not actually ask specifically for a 2% cut!