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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Grant Shapps fires back over bingo backlash during visit to Carlisle

An MP at the centre of the budget bingo backlash defended himself as he visited Carlisle.

Grant Shapps photo
Grant Shapps, right, with Print Graphic MD Simon Rees, centre, and MP John Stevenson

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps was attacked after he tweeted the duty cuts for bingo halls and beer duty announced by Chancellor George Osborne this week would allow “hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy”.

His comments were branded a “condescending, patronising, arrogant, haughty, out-of-touch, misconceived piece of nonsense'' by Labour leader Ed Miliband and were mocked online under the hashtag #ToryBingo.

But on a trip to Carlisle yesterday, Mr Shapps defended what he had said.

“We have lost three-quarters of our bingo halls in this country (in the last 30 years) and millions of people a week play bingo, this is a big deal.”

Duty on bingo halls was cut from 20 per cent to 10 per cent in this week’s Budget.

This came after claims the previous rates had led to 2,000 jobs being lost.

Beer duty was also cut by 1p.

Mr Shapps also defended this decision, saying: “For a local pub that’s important.”

He also said he had been amused by some of the comments posted on Twitter.

Mr Shapps was in the city to visit Print Graphic – graphic design, website design and commercial print firm – based at Kingmoor Park North. This was part of a “1,000 mile” tour around the north west, where he visited companies in several areas to ask about their feeling on the Budget.

He was accompanied by John Stevenson, the Tory MP for Carlisle.

He also defended the bingo duty cut.

“Today I visited a bingo hall in Denton Holme where it has been very well received,” he said.

“In British politics there is always satire and humour and I think that is a good thing.”

Mr Stevenson also praised Print Graphic as a local success and said it was important to support local businesses. He said: “They create the jobs that we all want to for our local communities.”

Simon Rees, the firm’s managing director, said: “I thought Mr Shapps was very easy to talk to, he was obviously interested in what we do as a business and he asked a lot of questions.”

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