Liberal Democrats say pubs should open early on Sunday for Lionesses

Liberal Democrats say Parliament should be recalled to allow pubs to serve alcohol from 10am on Sunday in time for Lionesses’ World Cup final amid ‘sexism’ row

Liberal Democrats say Parliament should be recalled to allow pubs to serve alcohol earlier on Sunday, in time for the Lionesses’ World Cup final.

The Government is mired in a sexism row after being accused of reacting too slowly to calls for pubs to open from 10am ready for the 11am kick-off. 

The Home Secretary Suella Braverman has the powers to relax licensing laws if it is deemed ‘an occasion of exceptional international, national or local significance’.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said: ‘This is an open goal for the government. The Lionesses have made history by reaching the final, it’s only right that people across the country can come together and show their full support on Sunday.

‘MPs should get down to Westminster tomorrow and score a last minute winner for our pubs and the Lionesses.’ 

Liberal Democrats say Parliament should be recalled to allow pubs to serve alcohol earlier on Sunday, in time for the Lionesses’ World Cup final

Alessia Russo of England (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal against Australia yesterday 

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP (pictured) has said it’s only right that people across the country can come together and show their full support on Sunday

Critics say it’s almost a given that the restriction would have been lifted if the men’s team were in the final.

Pubs expect their busiest Sunday of 2023 this weekend with more than a million extra customers expected to go to hit their local to watch the team’s first women’s World Cup Final as Sir Keir Starmer joined calls for a bank holiday if the team beat Spain in Sydney.

But alcohol sales are restricted in the majority of establishments until noon on Sunday, when the second half is due to begin, meaning fans will have to have a coffee or soft drink instead of a pint or a glass of wine.

The Athletic is reporting that Government departments are in last minute talks to allow booze to be served earlier for one day only – although some critics have claimed that if the men’s team had been close to reaching a World Cup final it would have been sorted already.

Three football fan zones in London have sold out in just eight minutes ahead of the final. Boxpark said 2,500 tickets went quickly at sites in Shoreditch, Wembley and Croydon. 

England fans react as England win the semi final at Boxpark Wembley yesterday. Three of these venues are sold out

Pubs in the UK will be open but most will be unable to sell booze until Noon unless the Government steps in

Philip Miller, who runs a zooquarium in Southend-on-Sea, was pilloried over his joke on Twitter 

Eager fans are pressing for an open-top bus parade through central London if the Lionesses with the World Cup

Clive Watson, executive chairman of City Pub Group, said that ‘most people will start trading at noon’ unless they receive ‘special dispensation’ from the Tory Government. 

He said: ‘Each pub will have its own licensing hours, but the absolute norm is noon on a Sunday.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer backs calls for a Bank Holiday if the Lionesses win the World Cup despite Downing Street dismissing the idea

‘We haven’t been in a World Cup final for football since 1966. If it was a men’s cup final the government would have done this already. They should do exactly the same for the women and facilitate the nation getting behind them. I think it would be really helpful because I think that otherwise a lot of people will watch it from home’.

The Home Secretary will have to take emergency action because there is not enough time to tweak legislation, with MPs away from Westminster for the summer.

Pubs, clubs and bars across the country will also be opening earlier – but Government insiders have told The Times that it is not certain the Home Office will step in.

A source told The Times: ‘In the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal. Pubs can open to show the game. If you need to have a coffee in the first half so be it. It is 11am on Sunday morning after all.’ 

But pub chiefs disagree.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: ‘There’s nothing stopping people going to the pubs. They might not be able to sell alcohol, it will depend on their licence, but there’s nothing to stop them doing breakfasts, soft drinks, and all of those kinds of things, and many will have a licence that will allow them to make sales’.

Gillian Keegan looked to swerve a question on whether there should be an extra bank holiday if the Lionesses win Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final.

The Education Secretary told Sky News: ‘That is not my decision, obviously. But it is something that I think… the more important thing would be to get lots of girls playing football as a result of this so that we have future Lionesses always on tap.’

Ms Keegan was also asked the question on LBC but spoke only about the England women’s team having previously lobbied for more equal access to sport for girls of school age.

Asked whether it was ‘a bit of a disappointment’ that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would not be going to Australia to watch the final in person, the Cabinet minister replied: ‘Actually, I think the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport (Lucy Frazer), I think she is on her way there now.’

But Labour’s leader says the nation should celebrate with a day off.

England fans celebrate after Alessia Russo scores their third goal

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s leader, says there should be a bank holiday if England win on Sunday

Sir Keir Starmer tweeted last night: ‘It’s almost 60 years since England won the World Cup. I’m never complacent about anything…but there should be a celebratory bank holiday if the Lionesses bring it home’.

But a government spokesman told the BBC that there were ‘no plans’ to change the current pattern of public holidays this year – which includes one on Monday, August 28.

A subsequent statement added: ‘Winning the World Cup would be a massive moment for the country and make no mistake we’ll find the right way to celebrate.

‘As Sarina Wiegman herself has said, the first thing to do is focus on the final and the whole country will be rooting for the Lionesses this weekend.’

There has never been an extra bank holiday to mark a sporting achievement, despite frequent public calls for one.

Ministers resisted appeals for a day off after the Lionesses’ victory in the Euros last year, while a petition calling for a bank holiday if the men’s team won Euro 2020 was also unsuccessful.

Extra bank holidays have been held for royal events, while a holiday was moved rather than added to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day in 2020.

Thousands of fans across the UK took time off work to watch yesterday’s game on what was dubbed ‘Work from Home Wednesday’, with many pouring into bars to watch the 11am kick-off. Stephen McLoughlin, 29, and Esme Tuttiet, 28, who work together at gym company UK Active, said: ‘This is the first match we’ve watched from the pub. Our boss just said go. I’ve got some work but it’s on the backburner at the moment – but I’m just drinking coffee, unfortunately.’

England striker Alessia Russo fires past the Australian keeper to confirm the victory yesterday

Georgia Stanway and Rachel Daly of England celebrate after the team’s 3-1 victory against Australia yesterday

The Lionesses faced not just tough opposition from the tournament’s co-hosts the Matildas, as the Aussie side is nicknamed, but also a partisan crowd in the packed 75,000-plus capacity Stadium Australia in Sydney.

But England stayed composed and were 1-0 up at half-time thanks to a thunderbolt of a strike from Ella Toone, 23. Fans’ nerves were left jangling when Australia’s superstar striker Sam Kerr, who started her first match of the tournament after overcoming an injury, levelled the score with a rocket of her own in the second half. Just eight minutes later, however, Lauren Hemp, 23, made it 2-1 to the Lionesses. Kerr then missed a golden opportunity to equalise again from close range, before Russo, 24, put the game out of reach with a brilliant finish.

After the final whistle, England players celebrated on the pitch as Australian fans were in tears and their players looked dejected.

The Lionesses’ official Twitter account showed images from the dressing room as they continued their celebrations by dancing to Sweet Caroline, the Neil Diamond hit which has become an anthem for England. A love triangle had added an extra twist to the already fiercely fought game. England’s Rachel Daly, 31, went out with American player Kristie Mewis, 32, between 2017 and 2019 while both played in the US for the same team, Houston Dash.

After they split, Mewis began a relationship with Australia’s Kerr in 2021. During yesterday’s game Daly and Kerr were seen competing for a header. When the game ended, Kerr held her head in her hand while Daly soaked up the Lionesses’ victory.

In an added twist Kerr, 29, is a team mate at Chelsea with England captain Millie Bright.

Congratulations to the Lionesses poured in from royalty, politicians and celebrities after the game. The King sent a message saying: ‘My wife and I join all our family in sending the mighty Lionesses our warmest congratulations on reaching the final of the World Cup, and in sharing our very best wishes for Sunday’s match.’ With a diplomatic nod to the Commonwealth country they beat in the semi-final, Charles added: ‘While your victory may have cost the magnificent Matildas their chance for the greatest prize in the game, both teams have been an inspiration on and off the pitch – and, for that, both nations are united in pride, admiration and respect.’

The Prince of Wales tweeted: ‘What a phenomenal performance from the @Lionesses – on to the final! Commiserations to @TheMatildas, you’ve played brilliantly and been fantastic co-hosts of this World Cup. W.’

William, who is president of the Football Association, will not travel to Australia to witness the final, Kensington Palace confirmed, but will instead watch the match on television. He saw the Lionesses win the European Championship last year, presenting the side with their medals at Wembley.

Rishi Sunak tweeted: ‘What a performance Lionesses. Just one more game to go… Bring on Sunday.’ Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: tweeted: ‘Come on! Phenomenal semi-final win from the @Lionesses. World Cup Final here we come!’

Harry Kane, captain of England’s men’s team, said: ‘Massive congratulations to the Lionesses. We’re all behind them and hopefully they can do it in the final.’

Former England striker and BBC presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: ‘Well played Lionesses. Absolutely superb performance. A World Cup final. It’s been a while. What a wonderful achievement.’

England’s win meant their manager Sarina Wiegman became the first coach to lead two countries to the World Cup final, and in back-to-back tournaments. Her run with the Netherlands in 2019 ended with a loss to the United States.

After yesterday’s game she said: ‘You make it to finals, it’s really special. I’m like, ‘Am I here in the middle of a fairy tale or something?’

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