Pub sector leaders have pulled out of talks with business minister Paul Scully due to a “growing sense of betrayal” caused by Government’s “obvious lack of interest and respect” for the industry.

In letters to the Prime Minister over the weekend, Young’s CEO Patrick Dardis and St Austell CEO Kevin Georgel announced that a group of executives, themselves included, have resigned from a weekly forum between the industry and Scully.

Both letters called directly on the Prime Minister to offer strong leadership and support for the sector in his upcoming announcement on 22 February, and to implement a reopening plan reflective of that put in place last July.

“We are exasperated at the obvious lack of interest and respect we are getting from this Government,” Dardis said. “It is abundantly clear that they are just playing politics under the guise of consulting. We are shocked and appalled that the government is basing its decisions to keep the great British pub closed on unfounded and unproven statistics.”

Imploring Johnson to heed advice from the British Beer and Pub Association, who recently published its own proposed reopening roadmap that makes the case for pubs reopening alongside non-essential retail, Dardis said there was no reason why businesses should not reopen in April.

“Please do the right thing and demonstrate strong leadership when our industry needs it most,” he said. “A successful vaccination programme is meaningless if it does nothing to aid our economic recovery.”

Georgel agreed, adding that off the back of the UK’s vaccination programme there “must be an opportunity to effectively balance the reducing risk with the need to re-start the economy.”

“There is no logic to support what some of your colleagues and advisers have been proposing, which would see us reopen with greater restrictions and with less chance of being economically viable than was the case before the vaccination programme,” he said.

“It is clear to me and to all of my peers that your personal intervention is now urgently required to enable trust to be re-established, and to help us find a more balanced and sensible way forward that will enable the Great British pub to survive, recover and rebuild.”