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Retailer backs down

‘Petty’ SNP put pressure on M&S over ‘UK’ whisky

Fergus Ewing

Fergus Ewing: briefed on talks with retailer (photo by Terry Murden)


SNP government officials “pressured” Marks and Spencer over food and drink labelling, it has emerged. 

The retailer has agreed to re-list Scotch whisky and Scottish gin after the party objected to it being categorised in the “United Kingdom” section of its website.  

Documents obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under Freedom of Information have revealed rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing was briefed on the conversation with M&S.

He was told by officials: “Scottish Government officials spoke to M&S to seek clarity on the situation with regard to the status of these products on their website. M&S urgently investigated this and reverted back confirming that this was indeed an error which they immediately rectified and sent out a tweet apologising for their error.”

After M&S agreed to back down, the Scottish Government official then asked: “Do you guys plan to send any tweets (or something) to clarify the situation? Just wondering as I’m sure if you did Mr Ewing would respond positively.”

The FoI response also reveals First Minister Nicola Sturgeon received similar briefings over Tesco’s decision to sell Scottish strawberries under a Union Flag logo in 2016.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “There’s not a person in the world who doesn’t know whisky is Scottish.

“But for the SNP to actively pressure a leading retailer in this way is petty and, frankly, a waste of public resources.

“It shows just how parochial the SNP government is, that it would sooner berate businesses for daring to refer to the UK, than actually help them create jobs and grow the economy.

“Instead of obsessing about Saltires and pandering to the extreme elements of the Yes movement, the SNP government should be getting on with representing the whole country.”



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