Sir Keith Starmer on a tour of a whisky distillery this week.
By J.P. McHugh
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party has today promised that with a Labour government, Scotland’s iconic Scotch whisky industry will be ‘backed to the hilt’.
Speaking at a visit to a distillery, the Labour leader lamented that the government’s lack of trade strategy is ‘unforgivable’, and has cost the industry dearly.
Promises by the government to deliver a Free Trade Agreement with the USA, a trade deal with India by Diwali 2022 and a promise to have 80% of UK trade covered by free trade agreement by the end of 2022 have all been broken.
Starmer’s words come after years of broken promises from successive Conservative governments on a trade deal with India. After promising a deal by October last year, Rishi Sunak has failed to deliver for Britain’s spirits producers, leaving the industry with nothing but uncertainty.
Scotch Whisky producers are calling on the UK government to strike a deal with its Indian counterpart to reduce the 150% tariff on Scotland’s number one export.
Keir Starmer said: “Scotch should be something we’re knocking back, not knocking down.
“The nation’s number one export, Scotland is the beating heart of the world’s whisky industry. From Skye to Stirling, from Dumbarton to Dalwhinnie, Scotland’s 140 distilleries put the nation on the map around the world.
“Nowhere is Scotch whisky more popular than India. We should be celebrating that fact. But instead of backing the industry with a coherent strategy for international trade, successive Conservative governments have broken promises, failed to negotiate a deal with India, and watched opportunities for growth drain away. That’s unforgivable.
“The industry is crying out for certainty. Whether it’s micro distilleries scaling up, or larger businesses reaching new international markets, they need stability to make that happen.
“Hearing from staff at InchDairnie in Fife today, the importance of that is not lost on me. It brings much-needed security for working people.
“That’s why my Labour Party will put growth at the heart of our mission-led approach to government.
“Labour’s plan for trade will back British business to export more and fit hand in glove with our industrial strategy.
“Our pro-growth and pro-business trade strategy will back Scotch producers to the hilt and ensure Scotland thrives.
“We’ll promote key Scottish products and exports like whisky so that we can unlock the full potential of the Scottish economy. With Labour, the Scotland Office will be Scotland’s window to the world.
“By backing Scotch, we’ll build a better Scotland, and build a better Britain.”