Jeremy Hunt pledges duty review to support Scotch
Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has pledged to review spirits tax in a bid to support the Scotch whisky industry and make Scotland “the most pro-business economy in Europe”.
Hunt is currently going head to head with Boris Johnson to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and UK prime minister following the departure of Theresa May.
Writing in The Times today, Hunt expressed a vision to “restore Scotland’s economy to its historic strength by looking at the industries of the future”.
He said: “The entire country can become a green Silicon Valley and an exporting powerhouse that leads the UK, not the other way around.”
As such, he said a review of spirits duty was needed after Brexit to “establish the best path to economic growth and the most tax revenue”.
Hunt added: “Scottish whisky has an inbuilt, natural and nostalgic advantage over its competitors. But we cannot get complacent; there are markets that must be seized in South America and Asia.
“If we sign a good Brexit deal and follow it with the right trade deals we can continue the Scottish whisky boom.”
Hunt said he would be willing to curate a “joint export-led growth strategy” with Scottish prime minister Nicola Sturgeon, with whom he said he would work on “everything but independence”.
“I want Scotland to become even more prolific at giving Britain a reputation for excellence in key industries on the global stage,” Hunt said.
“That’s the kind of Scotland I want to build together. A country that doesn’t feel the need to turn inward for answers. One where we make people in London look north and realise that we must do more for Scotland because look at what it’s doing for Britain.”
The Scotch Whisky Association has long called for a reduction in spirits duty. Last year, chancellor Philip Hammond implemented a freeze on spirits tax but increase the rate on wine.