The new chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group used his acceptance speech to signal a desire to fight the temperance lobby and push for a fair deal on duty.

Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South, takes over from Graham Evans, who lost his seat in this summer’s general election. 

He finished ahead of two fellow Conservative MPs in a vote to be named new chair, and joked that it was one way to ensure a Tory landslide. 

On a more serious note, he promised to oppose proposals for chief medical officer guidelines to say there is no safe level of alcohol consumption and urged MPs to unite to lobby for another duty cut.

He said: “We are all disappointed by the 3p rise in beer duty, even after a series of reductions. 

“There can be no question that high increases in duty restrict growth, threatens jobs and, over time, pushes drinkers away from relatively low-alcohol drinks to stronger drinks. 

“The beer group is always at its best when we can focus on issues that we all face, regardless of party politics. 

“It’s what secured the abolition of the hated duty escalator and the succession of repeated reductions in duty. Arguing against further rises in duty will be a key focus for the year ahead.

“We must ensure the temperance lobby is not successful in its proposals for zero intake of alcohol guidelines. That would be bad for policy and terrible for the British beer and pub sector.” 

Wood added: “As well as recognising the threats, we should take advantage of the opportunities that will be presented as Britain leaves
the EU. 

“New trade deals could give British brewers the chance to expand in existing markets and to secure and develop new markets around the world.”

“There is a lot to look forward to, but we can only do that if all parliamentarians interested in beer remain united.”

Former chairman Andrew Griffiths MP was named Beer Drinker of the Year at the beer group’s awards dinner, and several other MPs and brewers were honoured.