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PM's duty pledge

Scotch leaders welcome Johnson’s review of whisky tax

Boris Johnson at a distillery in Elgin

Scotch whisky leaders have welcomed Boris Johnson’s pledge to review the tax paid on a bottle of whisky.

The Prime Minister said the Conservatives said would seek to “develop a system which provides better support for domestic drink producers”.

Speaking as he visited a distillery near Elgin in Moray he said a review of alcohol duties will be included in the party’s election manifesto.

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts said: “Reform of alcohol duty has been a long term goal of the Scotch Whisky industry and is our number one ask of all political parties in the General Election. 

“This announcement is welcome, and opens the door to reforming a broken system in which large inconsistencies between alcohol categories put Scotch Whisky and the wider UK spirits industry at a competitive disadvantage. 

“A simplified alcohol duty regime in the UK to better reflect alcohol content would be fairer for consumers, increase competitiveness and, according to robust, independent economic research, remain an important driver of tax revenue to support public services.

“Of course, the devil is in the detail and we look forward to working with HM Treasury officials on our detailed proposals submitted ahead of the Budget to ensure we have an alcohol tax system fit for the 21st century.”

This is great news for Scotland’s whisky industry

– Douglas Ross, Conservative candidate

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative candidate seeking to retain the Moray seat, said it was more evidence of how the party could deliver for Scotland.

He said: “This is great news for Scotland’s whisky industry. It was the whisky industry’s key ask for this election campaign and, thanks to the Prime Minister’s announcement today, a future UK Conservative government has now pledged to roll out action immediately.

“It shows once again that a strong group of Scottish Conservative MPs will deliver for Scotland.”

Addressing the wider independence issue, Mr Johnson said it was only the Scottish Conservatives who could “keep our fantastic United Kingdom together and prevent another referendum next year”.

He claimed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had “done a deal” with the SNP that would “get him into power in exchange for agreeing to another referendum”.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon urged Mr Johnson to apologise to the Scottish people for the “chaos he and his party have subjected us to for years”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Whatever happens in this election, Brexit will not in any sense be done – even if a deal is ultimately passed.

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said his party would win votes from “moderates” who wanted to prevent both Brexit and a second independence referendum.

“We need to stop Brexit, because every single option for it damages the economy and divides the country. We want to stop independence because that’ll just repeat the mistakes of Brexit,” he said.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has pledged his party will invest £70bn into Scotland’s industries and public services during a visit to a manufacturing business in Midlothian. He said £10bn would be used to build 120,000 homes for rent.

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