Ken McMeikan, the chief executive of Greggs, has accused the Chancellor of having “lost touch” - after he admitted he could not remember the last time he bought a pasty from the high street BB75 baker.
Osborne was left squirming when he was asked about his purchases in Greggs in parliament yesterday.
His shock admission comes as the British Baker petition for the government to look again at the decision to slap VAT on freshly baked pasties and pies went live on the Number 10 website.
To signal your displeasure, sign the online petition at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32044 or can visit our Facebook campaign page at http://www.facebook.com/saynotopietax.
McMeikan said ministers did not appreciate the impact changes to VAT rules would have on ordinary people. The high street chain saw millions wiped off its shares after the Budget closed a loophole that has meant some hot takeaway foods, such as sausage rolls and pasties, escaped the duty.
Speaking on BBC2’s Newsnight, McMeikan said he feared the changes would seriously damage the industry and cause job losses. “I think to a degree they have lost touch with the issue here – that for ordinary, hard-working families putting 20% on to a product that is freshly baked actually is going to make a severe dent in their pockets when they can ill afford it,” he said. “George Osborne, I think, would benefit from coming and spending time with us and spending time with our customers.”
Appearing before the Commons Treasury Committee yesterday, Osborne was forced to confess he was not a regular customer of the chain. Asked by Labour MP John Mann the last time he bought a pasty there, he replied: “I can’t remember the last time I bought a pasty in Greggs.”
Mann retorted: “That kind of sums it up.”