SNP branded worse than Labour as Tory MP slams party’s trade record

Greg Hands says SNP are 'worse than Labour'

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The SNP has come under heated fire over its lack of support for the UK’s trade deals after either abstaining or voting against them in the House of Commons. Trade Minister Greg Hands made a pointed dig at Nicola Sturgeon’s party, accusing the SNP of having actively acted against Scotland’s interests by blocking potentially prolific trade arrangements with foreign countries since the Brexit vote.

Mr Hands said: “But Madame Deputy Speaker, I would just end with the SNP because when it comes to trade deals, Madame Deputy Speaker, they are even worse than Labour.

“They have never supported any trade deal ever, conducted, concluded, either by the EU or by the UK.

“They didn’t even support the trade deal between the UK and the EU and voted for no deal two years ago. 

“Madame Deputy Speaker, they were against Canada, against Korea, against South Africa. 

“They didn’t even support the trade deal between the EU and Ukraine. Madame Deputy Speaker, can you get that?

A raging Mr Hands repeated: “They didn’t support the EU-Ukraine deal. Abstained as well on Japan and on Singapore.

“This is a party, which is fundamentally against trade and fundamentally against the interest of Scotland as a trading nation.”

He rejected accusations that Britain is failing to comply with its legal obligation to abide by workers’ rights law and added the Australian trade deal, which was rejected by the SNP, has allowed Scotland to reduce tariffs on whisky – a prolific source of revenue.

He continued: “I’m glad that he raised whisky tariffs, Madame Deputy Speaker because he didn’t support the Australia free trade deal, which would see a reduction in whisky tariffs.

“There’s actually a 150 percent tariff on Scottish whisky currently going into India. 

“So, I will be watching very closely indeed to see what his approach will be to this trade deal.”

The trade minister said: “And I also notice, Madame Deputy Speaker, with our very successful removal of the Airbus/Boeing tariffs, which was a huge benefit to the Scotch whisky industry.”

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Industry data shows exports of whisky grew by 19 percent to £4.51billion during 2021 and accounted for a fifth of all UK food and drink exports in 2019.

With the Australian trade deal signed in December 2021, the Scottish whisky industry slashed tariffs by 5 percent and continues to expand exports to Australia, which have almost doubled over the last decade. 

In a sign of the trade potential for the industry, the Scotch Whisky Association said: “We look forward to working with the UK and Australian governments to implement the deal over the coming years and take advantage of any opportunity to address other regulatory barriers to trade.”

However, the SNP has leveraged Scotland’s prolific exports like salmon and Scotch Whisky to campaign for boosting its exports with the 27 European Union countries through independence.

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