Northants Tories’ luxury dinner with Rishi Sunak amid cost of living crisis
Party members dined with the chancellor at Whittlebury Hall on Friday
By Natalie Bloomer
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Just days after a government minister said struggling families should buy value food brands to save money, Northamptonshire Conservatives were sipping champagne and enjoying a lavish three-course meal with the chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The dinner, arranged by the South Northants Conservatives, was held at the grand Whittlebury Hall near Towcester on Friday night. Although most attendees paid around £70 for a ticket, the website eventbrite shows prices for the evening ranging from £43.71 - £782.14.
Corporate sponsorship packages for the night started at £1,000 and went up to £2,500.
Party members were greeted at the door with champagne before enjoying red and white wine on the tables.
A sample menu of Whittlebury Hall’s banquet offering includes Chicken Liver Parfait or Truffled Eggs & Ham as a starter followed by a main course such as Supreme of Chicken Topped Wild Mushroom Mousse or Six Hour Slow Cooked Dijon Roast Rump of Beef.
Bottles of House of Commons wine signed by the chancellor were auctioned off for around £300 each to raise money for the local Conservative Party Association. There was also a fundraiser for Ukraine.
MP for South Northamptonshire Andrea Leadsom attended the function, as did the leader of West Northamptonshire Council Jonathan Nunn, chairman of the South Northants Association Pinder Chauhan and other councillors from the area.
One party source said Sunak started the evening with a walk around the room chatting to those in attendance before taking questions from the audience. On a night of luxury food and drink, a key issue he was asked about was the cost of living crisis.
He listed some of the things the government is doing to ease the pressure on those struggling financially but said he is concerned about a possible further increase in energy prices in the autumn.
Another hot topic given the timing of the event was the local election results.
“The general feeling was that they were better than expected. Some people were expecting a real bloodbath but they weren't that bad. There’s not really any appetite for Boris to go now,” a source at the event said.
Just days before the event the justice minister George Eustice was slammed for telling hard up families to save money by eating value lines. When asked by Sky News about the rising cost of food he said:
“What people find is by going for some of the value brands rather than own-branded products , they can actually contain and manage their household budget.”
This came just a day after the prime minister appeared to take credit for 24 hour bus passes when challenged by Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid about a 77 year-old woman who was travelling around on a bus all day to save on energy costs.
Last week the Bank of England warned that inflation could reach 10 percent this year as it increased interest rates to a 13 year high of 1 percent.