UK sausage company Heck has come under fire from critics after hosting Conservative leadership candidate Boris Johnson at its Yorkshire factory.
The family-run luxury sausage manufacturer was visited by Johnson last week ahead of leadership hustings in York. The prospective prime minister was presented with a special edition sausage named the ‘Boris banger’ and expressed his support for a planned 30-metre sculpture of a sausage to be built outside the factory.
The visit saw extensive criticism over Heck’s implied support for Johnson, who remains controversial despite substantial support from Conservative party members – the candidate has expressed contentious views on gender, race and sexuality; while police were called to his partner’s home in June 2019 after a loud argument disturbed neighbours – and commentators highlighted the discrepancy between Johnson’s pro-Brexit strategy and opinions previously expressed by representatives of Heck. In May 2017 Heck co-owner Debbie Keeble told the Observer’s food critic Jay Rayner that an end to freedom of movement occasioned by Brexit “would be cataclysmic [for the luxury sausage industry]. No one here will take these jobs…During the referendum, campaigners were going on about people coming over here taking our jobs. Well, they’re not, because nobody here applies for them.”
Construction of a planned visitor centre, provisionally named ‘Sausage World’, was put on hold in February 2019 after the company failed to attract EU funding due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit. Jamie Keeble, Head of Sales at Heck, told the BBC: “Brexit is creating huge uncertainty and we don’t believe there will be any investment from central government to help start-ups. We had tremendous support at the beginning but that has all disappeared down the Brexit sinkhole.”
If Johnson is successful in his campaign to become Conservative leader and by extension prime minister of the UK, he has pledged to lead the UK out of the EU by 31 October “come what may”, saying the UK would be “match fit” for a no-deal Brexit.