Tory donor Rocco Forte says he has ‘NO money’ to give the party as he blasts Covid rules as a ‘complete overreaction’ and warns moving into Tier 3 would ‘be disastrous’ for his hotels
- Sir Rocco, 75, said he doesn’t have ‘any money to give’ Tories amid restrictions
- Hotelier previously donated to Conservative Party and hosted a victory party
- He warned there could be 80 redundancies in his UK hotels due to lockdown
Hotelier Sir Rocco Forte today said he has no money left to donate to the Conservative Party as he slammed Britain’s latest lockdown rules as a ‘complete overreaction’.
Sir Rocco, 75, who has previously been a Tory donor, said he doesn’t have ‘any money to give’ the party after the Government’s coronavirus restrictions created a ‘grim situation’ for the UK hospitality industry.
Speaking on the BBC‘s Today programme, Sir Rocco, who has recovered from coronavirus, said: ‘They’ve overreacted, they’ve panicked in the first instance on the basis of a forecast of 500,000 deaths.
‘We’re now seeing new forecasts done by the same people who made the mistakes last time round, forecasting Armageddon, and they’re starting to panic again.’
Sir Rocco, 75, who has previously been a donor to the Conservative Party, said he doesn’t have ‘any money to give’ the party after the Government’s coronavirus restrictions created a ‘grim situation’ for the UK hospitality industry
The hotelier, who hosted a victory party for Boris Johnson after the 2019 election, added supporting the Conservative Party ‘doesn’t mean I have to agree with all its policies and the way it has reacted to this particular crisis.’
Sir Rocco, who runs Brown’s in London and The Balmoral in Edinburgh, has seen sales at his UK hotels plummet by 80 per cent during lockdown.
The hotelier has now warned there could be a ‘considerable reduction’ in employees as a result of the end of furlough, with a potential 80 redundancies on the horizon.
He said: ‘We’re looking at considerable reduction in our staff unfortunately as a result of the ending of furlough, and we’re talking about 80 people out of a total employee base of 450 in this country.
‘The way things are at the moment we’re not looking at business improving very much for the next four or five months so we have no option but to take drastic action.
Sir Rocco, who runs Brown’s in London (pictured) and The Balmoral in Edinburgh, has seen sales at his UK hotels plummet by 80 per cent during lockdown
‘There’s talk now of Tier Three being imposed across the country. That would mean we have to close the hotels which would be pretty disastrous.’
Under Tier Three restrictions, hotels are able to remain open and accept overnight bookings – but people must not stay with those who are not members of the same household or ‘support bubble.’
The rules state: ‘Food and drink must not be served from 10pm to 5am and hotel restaurants must remain closed during these hours.
‘Room service can continue past 10pm provided orders are placed online or over the phone, and alcohol is permitted in room service.’
Sir Rocco went on explain that 3.2million people work in the hospitality industry, with another 2.8million dependant on it.
‘We’re looking at a very bleak future and high levels of redundancies and unemployment,’ he said.
‘As it is, I’m looking at an outflow of cash for the current financial year of £60-odd million and that’s money just gone out of the window.
‘This is money that I won’t recover and money that won’t be invested so it’s a pretty grim situation.’
The hotelier even asserted more people are currently dying from influenza and pneumonia than Covid-19, though this was contested by Dr Mike Tildesley from the University of Warwick later in the programme.
‘The reality of the virus is that it is not the killer it was thought to be at the beginning, I mean they were talking about a bubonic type plague where a third of the population died,’ Sir Rocco said.
‘Deaths are terrible in any circumstances but we’re looking at a very very small proportion.’
Later, Dr Tildesley explained: ‘Looking at the data we have so far, it definitely doesn’t look like that’s the case.’