Jamie Oliver performs 'sugar tax' dance after Budget announcement but insists appearance at Westminster was a 'fluke'

The celebrity chef said he just happened to be walking past Parliament when the levy was announced

Victoria Richards
Thursday 17 March 2016 09:52
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Jamie Oliver jig

Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef who has long campaigned for better food education, couldn't have been more perfectly situated when the so-called 'sugar tax' was announced as part of the 2016 Budget.

In fact, the TV personality - whose work with schools and lobbying of the Government over the issue has been well documented - just so happened to be walking past Westminster shortly after George Osborne revealed he would be imposing a levy on the soft drinks industry, which is expected to raise £520m.

He was duly seized upon by BBC News as part of their live coverage of the Budget on Wednesday, and expressed his delight at the announcement in his own, unique, extremely Jamie Oliver way.

As presenter Jane Hill explained the terms of the new tax, which will be brought in in two years time and will see some of the money raised ploughed into doubling the current funding for school sports, Oliver appeared on the right-hand side of the screen, where he performed an impromptu, bizarre and thoroughly joyful 'sugar tax dance'.

The presenter, who has crafted an entire career out of being a loveable, 'cheeky' celebrity chef - see his eponymous 'Jamie Oliver's cheeky chilli-pepper chutney' if you're still not convinced - raised his hands in the air and jumped and jiggled, whooping silently with delight and apparently unaware he was on camera.

Earlier in the day he crowed on Twitter and Instagram: "We did it guys!! we did it!!! A sugar levy on sugary sweetened drinks ...... A profound move that will ripple around the world ....business can not come between our Kids health !!".

But his fortuitous appearance on BBC News 24 just 90 minutes later seemed just a little too cozy and coincidental for some social media users to believe.

One user, Warwick Smith, wrote on Twitter: "So did Jamie Oliver just happen to be in Westminster and available for interviews this afternoon? Or did he have advance knowledge?"

And another, Michelle Churchland, added: "So staged. The whole Jamie Oliver v Tory sugar tax thing. They'd planned it months ago."

But Oliver insisted that he really had just happened to be passing, saying he had heard about the levy at the same time as everyone else.

"It was a fluke," the Daily Mail reported him as saying. "It wasn't planned.

"I didn’t find out until today that this was going to be in the Budget. And more than that I didn’t think we would ever get it. I never thought we were going to get this."

The new tax could affect popular fizzy drinks such as Coke, Pepsi, Red Bull and Fever Tree tonic water - and could see the average price of a 330ml can rise by 8p.

Drinks with 5g of sugar per 100ml will face a lower rate of tax, and those that contain more than 8g per 100ml will be placed on a higher rate - though the rates have not yet been formally set.

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