Minister: Refined drinking culture distant dream

Britain may never adapt to a European drinking culture, Hazel Blears claims
Britain may never adapt to a European drinking culture, Hazel Blears claims

Britain will never be able to achieve the 'cafe drinking culture' found in many European countries because residents love getting drunk, cabinet minister Hazel Blears has claimed.

With the country's pubs and clubs preparing to benefit from 24-hour licensing laws for a second New Year's Eve, the Labour party chairwoman says the legislation is unlikely to ever herald a new era of restrained drinking.

At the same time Ms Blears hit back at people who warned the licensing shake-up would be the "end of all life as we know it", saying: "That hasn't happened."

But in an interview with the Sunday Times, she says: "I don't know whether we'll ever get to be in a European drinking culture, where you go out and have a single glass of wine. Maybe it's our Anglo-Saxon mentality.


"We actually enjoy getting drunk. I think there is a bit about risk-taking - people want to push the limits of danger. So as a politician I don't think there are any easy answers."

The minister told the newspaper that above all she was worried about the health implications of drinking to excess.

"People are getting quite serious health conditions earlier, things like liver problems in their 20s and 30s that perhaps before only came out in their 40s and 50s," she says.

"I think we've got to do more education now - that has to be the absolute priority," she adds.

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