DRINKERS were stunned when David Cameron popped into their newly reopened pub to wish them all the best.

The Prime Minister and Witney MP visited the launch party of The Fox in Leafield, near Witney, on Thursday night for a pint and a natter with regulars.

Brewery Admiral Taverns closed the village’s only pub in January last year, spurring a group of patrons to launch a Facebook campaign to get it reopened.

With 325 signatures, almost half the village’s population, backing their crusade, they started negotiations with co-owner Nigel Braithwaite. He agreed to a major refurbishment and to run it as an independent freehold, to the delight of drinkers at the pub.

Mr Cameron said: “I was so pleased to be able to attend the reopening of The Fox in Leafield. Our pubs are often the heart of our villages and this is a great example of a community coming together to save something they value.

“The high rate of pub closures is a serious issue and it must come down.”

Landlord Geordie Mynehan, from Abingdon, said: “We have had a really warm welcome.

“It is for the village, it is open for the village and hopefully the village will support it.

“Mr Cameron said how glad he was that the pub had opened back up, he obviously knew it from before.”

Large brewing firms have been criticised for “tie” deals which force landlords to buy brewery beer.Some have blamed this for the collapse of many pubs.

Mr Mynehan, who plans to do food at The Fox, said: “We run it for ourselves, we don’t run it for a brewery and we have the freedom over what we buy and what we sell. We will show them it works, as long as the village supports what we are doing.”

Richard Weinhold, who lives six doors down from the pub and led the campaign to save it, said he was delighted. He added: “I didn’t think it would be so easy.”