London publican hopeful after registering pub as political party

A London publican who registered his pub as a political party, and is running as the sole candidate for the bar in the General Election, said he will “definitely get one vote” – from himself.

The owner of The Mitre pub in Richmond, Chris French, 47, had a brainwave 12 months ago and decided to run as an MP for Richmond Park in Greater London in order to get publicity for his establishment.

He told the PA news agency: “Our little pub that we have in Richmond is a lovely little pub and all the time we hear, ‘I’ve been living in Richmond for 20 years, and I didn’t even know this pub existed’.

“That got me thinking, how do you get out to people, and then about 12 months ago, I stumbled across that if I actually registered to run in the election, I would actually get the free advertising on 77,000 ballot papers.”

Customers sitting on benches at the Mitre pub
Chris French is landlord of The Mitre pub in Richmond, London, which he registered as a political party as a way of advertising his business (Gillian Craigie/PA)

“I’ll be voting for myself so at least then I definitely get one vote,” he said.

“Now whether Gillian (Craigie) my partner votes for me, I’m not too sure. If I only get one vote, it might be quite a frosty evening. Hopefully I’ll get two votes.”

Asked about the hypothetical contents of his pub’s manifesto, Mr French laughed.

“I don’t know. Maybe close all the other pubs down in Richmond. Cut beer duty on The Mitre to maybe one pence and put everybody else up to 50 pence,” he joked.

Mr French said he would be “absolutely chuffed” if he got at least 5% of the vote, as this would mean the £500 deposit candidates are required to pay would be returned to him.

People sitting in the Mitre with a TV mounted on a wall overhead
Chris French said he would be ‘absolutely chuffed’ if he got at least 5% of the vote (Chris French/PA)

If elected, he would celebrate with an alcohol-free shandy, he added, as he stopped drinking alcohol three years ago.

The pub staff “probably rolled their eyes” at “another crazy idea” from him, he said, adding that Ms Craigie was “100% behind it”.

He said: “She hears some crazy things from me all the time, so it was probably just another one of those hare-brained ideas that I’ve had.”

Local people have started asking Mr French about his plans for the General Election as word has got out that he is standing.

“People are slowly starting to find out and they love it. It’s only been positive. They love the idea. There’s not been a single word of negativity about it,” he said.

Ultimately, Mr French wants to grow his business, saying: “If it gets an extra two people in, I’m happy.

People sitting on wooden tables and benches outside The Mitre pub in London
Chris French said he was trying to grow his business (Chris French/PA)

The publican said he is not political and does not typically vote, with his interests lying more in “music and football”.

“I’m not political and I don’t want to start treading on people’s toes because at the end of the day, I’m just a publican with a crazy idea to advertise his pub,” he said.

“I don’t think I’d be very popular with the other local politicians if the people voted in a pub landlord over a politician.”

Asked whether he was encouraging people to vote for him on July 4, he said: “I’d rather them come down and start spending some money in the pub than vote for me to be honest.”

PA has contacted Sarah Olney for comment.

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