Nicola Sturgeon warns of Brexit impact on Scotch whisky exports

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that Brexit will lead to a “completely unnecessary” five-fold increase in red tape for the whisky sector

The SNP leader described the issue as a perfect example of the “self-destructive futility” of quitting the EU.

And she said the spirits sector’s concerns about the “extra burden”, which is linked to the creation of a new HM Revenue and Customs system for collecting import and export duties, were shared by the food industry.

The issue was raised at first minister’s questions in Holyrood yesterday by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, who warned of “the potential for confusion and chaos” at customs posts under the plans.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government is in regular dialogue with the Scotch whisky industry.

“The industry believes that leaving the European Union will increase transactions fivefold. That is an extra burden on industry that is completely unnecessary.

“It is also one of the many reasons for our arguing that leaving the EU will significantly weaken our economy when compared with continued membership of the EU, and that the least damaging option is to remain in the single market.”

She added: “Its concerns provide a case study in the self-destructive futility of leaving the single market.

“It is not just the whisky industry that has such concerns; the food sector resilience group, which is chaired by the Scottish Government and brings together associations across the food and drink supply chain, as well as other public sector bodies, is meeting as we speak.

“It will discuss the impact of customs issues and the possible disruption at ports in England, which could have a really damaging effect on all of Scotland’s exporters.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “We are committed to securing a good deal with the EU that works for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

“We have been clear that we will be leaving the single market and the customs union, taking control of our borders and ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

“But we will also be seeking a comprehensive trade deal which is in the interests of both the UK as a whole and our European partners.”