SNP conference

Flynn calls for French-style cap on food prices

Stephen Flynn: greed crisis

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to follow the example of France and put a cap on food prices.

Mr Flynn said that a ceiling on key products would help consumers cope with rising prices.

It is one of three suggestions that Mr Flynn has made to Mr Hunt ahead of the autumn statement, the others being a call for the reinstatement of the £400 energy rebate, and mortgage interest relief.

“Follow the example of our friends in France: tackle the cost of greed crisis and cap food prices in supermarkets for essential items,” he told delegates at the SNP conference in Aberdeen.

“These are real measures that will mean real help with the cost of living crisis for Scottish communities as we head into winter.”

Mr Flynn said that he had written to Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, to request support for the proposals but had not received a response.

Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, secured an agreement with 75 food companies to cut prices of products in June. It has led to cuts in the price of pasta, poultry and vegetable oil until the end of the year.

Downing Street has looked into the initiative but so far has made no progress and it was described by one source as a  “harebrained gimmick” that would merely divert price rises on to other products.

Mr Flynn blamed Westminster for the cost of living crisis while his call for a French-style response acknowledged that the problem exists in other countries.

In his speech he also admitted that the party needed to change course following a “humbling” result in the Rutherglen & Hamilton West by-election, where Labour won with a 20.4-point swing from the SNP.

“The truth is that this hasn’t been an easy few weeks for our party, let alone an easy few months,” he said.

“Despite a brilliant candidate, who worked day and night – and a brilliant team of party activists – we lost Rutherglen and Hamilton West and we lost it comfortably.

“Yes it was a by-election, yes it was a low turnout and yes there were very specific circumstances under which that election was called.

“But there is no point in denying it. That defeat was humbling.”

Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary, accused the SNP of wasting 16 years in government “failing to deliver for Scotland”, and turned the cost of living crisis on Mr Flynn’s party.

He said: “Under the SNP, one in seven Scots are stuck on an NHS waiting list, our green energy potential has been sold off on the cheap, and the cost of living crisis is still spiralling.”

Comment: Time for the SNP to build bridges with Westminster

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