Tax on take-out favorites proves hard to digest
LONDON | The British government’s intention to tax the humble Cornish pasty, a regional savory snack much beloved by workers and students, has opened a new front in the country’s never-ending class war.
Finance Minister George Osborne last week announced he would close a loophole that allowed some fresh-baked take-away items — including pies, sausage rolls and pasties — to escape the 20 percent sales tax.
The move, however, caused a media storm, with tabloid headlines portraying the new tax as an attack by the Conservative-led government on working-class life.
“I can’t remember the last time I bought a pasty in Greggs,” Mr. Osborne told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, referring to a snackshop chain.
“That kind of sums it up,” responded Labor Party lawmaker John Mann, a former union official.
So, at a news conference Wednesday, ostensibly to discuss the upcoming London Olympics, Prime Minister David Cameron was compelled to pledge allegiance to the pasty, a mixture of meat and vegetables in a pastry crust typical of southwestern England.
“I am a pasty eater myself,” he declared to reporters.
Mr. Cameron said he last ate one in Leeds, though not at a Greggs. “I have a feeling I opted for the large one, and very good it was, too,” the Oxford-educated prime minister said.
Greggs bakeries, a purveyor of fast-food, including 140 million sausage rolls per year, saw its shares slump 5.5 percent on news of the new tax.