More than two dozen of Britain's top pub and restaurant chains have joined forces to campaign for a cut in VAT to boost the country's ailing leisure industry.
They have joined together to back French hospitality entrepreneur and lobbyist Jacques Borel in his campaign to get VAT reduced from 20 per cent to 5 per cent on food, drink and accommodation in the UK.
Mr Borel successfully battled for the cut in VAT in France that not only led to thousands more jobs in the leisure industry but also saw the government's tax take from the sector actually rise as more people went out.
Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, said: "In the UK, supermarkets have been able to subsidise their alcohol sales on the back of non-VAT food sales.
"We cannot do that in pubs because we have to pay VAT on food. It is like clean athletes having to take on drug cheats. The supermarkets have been given steroids by the Government for the last two decades."
Mr Borel's VAT Club is backed by London brewers including Fuller's and Young's, regional ones such as Shepherd Neame and Timothy Taylor, restaurant chains including Pizza Hut, and trade bodies such as the British Association of Leisure Parks.