A baseline cost of 45p per unit of alcohol was expected to be announced before May in an attempt to curb binge drinking.
Under the proposals:
- A bottle of wine costing £3.69 would cost at least £4.39
- A bottle of vodka costing £9 would cost at least £11.81
- A 12-pack of lager costing £8 would cost at least £9.50
Source: Wine and Spirit Trade Association
David Cameron will scrap plans for minimum alcohol pricing in England and Wales amid pressure from the Treasury, the Telegraph reported last night.
Backbench Conservative MPs reacted angrily to the reports of a u-turn:
I really hope rumours of u-turn on minimum unit pricing for alcohol are not true. We must tackle problem of easily accessible cheap alcohol
Very concerned about suggestion that minimum pricing to be dropped from alcohol strategy. Public health minister could not confirm at mtg
Meanwhile Labour said a Conservative u-turn on minimum pricing would represent "weak leadership" and Liberal Democrat health spokesman Greg Mulholland went as far as proposing scrapping the beer duty escalator for economic reasons:
‘Scrapping beer duty will lead to brewery investment, expansion and employment’ - http://t.co/rHBWiiNjGd
In response to suggestions that plans for minimum alcohol pricing might be scrapped, GP and Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston made her case on Twitter:
Light & Moderate drinkers are subsidising cheap booze for the heaviest drinkers. Why do we have to pay the £20bn cost for NHS & police?
What is the lifetime cost of supporting a child with fetal alcohol syndrome? More importantly what is the human cost ?
Not saying #minimumpricing is the only answer but all other answers undermined if alcohol costs 20ppu & cheaper to be drunk than eat
Shadow home office minister Diana Johnson said:
Theresa May and David Cameron have announced a minimum alcohol price twice in the last 12 months.
Now we hear reports the Home Secretary has changed her mind on her own policy and wants to U-turn.
This is weak leadership and weak government. The Home Secretary and the Prime Minister said this measure would cut crime and prevent alcohol abuse. What's changed?
Both times the Government announced this measure we made clear there needs to be a package around alcohol abuse, a minimum price is not a magic bullet.
And there needs to be a clear plan to prevent a windfall for supermarkets. Both times the Government insisted a minimum price was the only way forward.
Theresa May has taken her eye off the ball recently. On a flagship policy this is a humiliating climbdown.
Tory backbenchers expressed dismay tonight amid suggestions that plans for minimum pricing of alcohol are being dropped.
David Cameron had thrown his weight behind the policy, which medical groups argue would save lives, but several MPs have suggested that the proposals will be shelved.
Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston wrote on Twitter: "Very concerned about suggestion that minimum pricing to be dropped from alcohol strategy."
Fellow Conservative Tracey Crouch said: "I really hope rumours of u-turn on minimum unit pricing for alcohol are not true."